Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Seeing God from a Different Room

   Sister Chris greeted me at the door of the Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat last week with a hug and a smile. She said she'd been praying her favorite Advent prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus, come," as she walked the halls of the building. The building is laid out much like a cross, with a gorgeous chapel on the north end, and three wings of residential rooms on the other three. On this morning, she pointed me in a different direction than that of the room we normally sit in when we're together every couple of months. We walked through the long eastern hallway until we reached a large porch on the end whose "floor-to-ceiling" glass windows offered a panorama of the woods and river bottoms off in the distance. It was a different perspective of creation that I'd not seen before. When I remarked at how I had never looked out that way before, she told me about the view she had last January when the winter storm that socked in the South had covered every limb and trunk with glimmering ice. Her eyes lit up, remembering how her normal view had been transformed before her eyes.
   I travel the few miles of highway out of town and, literally, through the woods in order to receive from her spiritual direction. Not having grown up with that term in my working vocabulary, I still struggle to define it when people ask what we do when she and I sit together. My best attempt is to say that we talk about life and about where God is at work. Often, I talk about where I've messed up and she, invariably, talks about where God's love and grace are shining through. We begin and end our time in prayer, and I leave encouraged and possessing next steps to travel upon as I return to the place of God's great love for me. It is Divine; God is present and active in the words spoken and unspoken.
   My trip really reminded me of how desperately our lives need Advent. How many of us go through routines that rarely allow our eyes - those in our heads and in our hearts - the chance to see the world from a different perspective? How many of us miss the beauty of the world because we stay to our familiar courses and paths? How many of us are startled to realize that some of God's very best work comes after the storm?  This is the season of anticipating what is to come.
   "Come, Lord Jesus, come." I invite you to join Sister Chris and me in praying this prayer, that our eyes might be open to the places, people, and moments of potential where God is at work around us. The Gospel of John says that Jesus came into the world "to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Lord, let it be for me.
   Grace and Peace to you, Scott

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