Every Last Little Thing
I know a quiet and beautiful spot in Rindge, New Hampshire, called the Cathedral of the Pines, a memorial dedicated to the memory and honor of all American military veterans. The grounds are open to any who seek a peaceful place for mediation or retreat. On a hot and sunny July day I retreated there for seven hours of soul rest. In four different physical scenes I experienced emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical Sabbath rest.
Scene 1 – Within the Green Temple
On a bench facing close into a richly green overgrowth of trees, bushes, and grasses, I had morning worship and then simply examined my surroundings and felt the joy of the Lord by means of the beauty of creation – the macro view out to Mt. Monadnock and the micro view of tiny clusters of buds in various stages of opening up into tiny and magnificent white flowers. I paid attention to the hum of insects and the song of birds. Here in the Green Temple my breath prayer was, “Healer, say the word and I am healed.”
Scene 2 – Behind the 10 Commandments
On a stone bench in the shade behind a monument dedicated to veterans with the 10 Commandments inscribed on the front, I read Psalm 62 and the Lord reminded me to wait and trust so that I would not be shaken. A strong, cool breeze blow across me making the skin on my arms tingle. “Wait and trust and I will keep you refreshed.” In that shade and sense of sacred space, I ate strawberries so ripe the black seeds were about to burst out of their tiny pockets in the red flesh. And then I laid down on the cool gray stone and rested my eyes.
Scene 3 – Beside the Tree of Life Fountain
Sitting on a bench near the Tree of Life Fountain dedicated to women who had lost their lives in service to our country, I had my afternoon worship and was encouraged when I read in Psalm 92:14, “They shall still bear fruit in old age, they will stay young and green.” While I sat there I tried to focus on every last little thing. I picked up a green pine cone and took time to smell the pine resin and feel its stickiness. I observed a solitary carpenter ant with a red thorax scurry over a nearby rock and in and out of crevices. I listened to the water trickling in the fountain. I watched a volunteer spread rich, dark mulch on a garden bed. I gazed out at Mt. Monadnock in the distance shimmering in the heat.
Scene 4 – At Bullet Pond
I followed a dirt path as a solitary walker until I rounded a corner and a pretty little pond rimmed with aquatic purple Pickerel Rush came into sight and caught up my breath. So far I had spent my retreat hours in shady spots, but now I was letting the hot afternoon sun shine on me. I felt connected to a scene pulsating with life in that sun. The surface of the pond was completely covered with a quivering sprinkle of insects from a recent hatch. An occasional plop signaled a fish coming up for one of their numbers. Frogs jumped across my path into the water. I sat down on a whitened dead log to be close to the ground and surrounded by flitting yellow, black, blue and iridescent teal dragonflies. Completely silent, I was a part of this buzzing and sparkling hot, sunny habitat. It was life giving.
In a Garden
A sign on the grounds with words from a Dorothy Frances Gurney poem remind me of something I know to be true for me and one reason this retreat was so restful and renewing for me:
Kiss of the sun for pardon.
Song of the birds for mirth.
You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden
Than any place on earth.
In this beautiful place, on this beautiful day, my beautiful Savior refreshed my body, mind, and spirit with the beauty of his creation, his Word, his gifts to my senses, his life giving light and heat.