If we are always busy, how can we hear God? How can we see God in every part of creation? How can we smell the wonderful aromas that the air can bring? How can we touch even the tiniest fraction of this earth? How can we taste the sweetness of this world?
I have gone through life always keeping busy. Even when I have a chance to sit and relax, I pop right back up and look for something to do. I have a problem being still. But God says “Be still and know that I AM God”. We need stillness in our lives. We need stillness to heighten our senses and recognize God in everything we encounter.
Today, I took a walk to see statues representing the Garden of Gethsemani that had been donated by a family whose son, an Episcopalian seminarian, was killed saving a young girl from being shot. This walk took me through the woods on a path that allowed me to experience God’s beauty in nature. The leaves have started to fall from the trees and were covering the path. As I walked, I could hear the rustle and crunching of the leaves beneath my feet. I imagined this place at all times of the year; lush and green in the summer, wild flowers in bloom in the spring, colors of red, orange, and yellow in the fall, and snow and ice covered in the winter. This path would always be beautiful in its own way.
As I continued to walk, I could hear the acorns falling from the trees, squirrels quickly racing from tree to tree, chipmunks scurrying to and fro, the few leaves left on the trees rustling in the breeze, and the sound of water slowly lapping the sides of the pond.
About ¾ of the way up the hike, there was a very primitive hutch that someone built. It was a rosary cabin. Many people had stopped there to pray and to offer their prayer intentions for others to read. Little slips of torn paper with scribbled notes to our Lord outlining people’s needs for prayer; the death of a loved one, memories of 9-11, sickness, failing kidneys, mental illness, estranged loved ones, financial insecurity, cancer, prayers of thanksgiving and more lined the walls of the cabin. This was a place of refuge for those seeking God.
Not much farther up the path, I encountered the statues. It was as if I was entering the garden itself. First, I encountered the three disciples sleeping. This large statue of three men lying together asleep was life sized and beautiful. I touched one of the men on the head. I imagined it was the apostle Peter and wept as I told him to “wake up!”, did he not know his Lord was going to his death? Did he not want to spend the last hours he had with his Lord awake? I imagined my own life and how I walk through many days “asleep” to God’s call. I am not listening for Him. My mind is elsewhere, numb to hearing his word because too many other things are blocking my being able to hear him.
Next, I encounter Jesus. He is on his knees, head lifted to heaven, his hands covering his eyes, crying out to God for mercy. “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Even at the point of death, even knowing what he is facing on the cross, he still abides by His Father’s will. As I look at this man in such agony, I weep once again. I imagine being able to comfort him and wrap my arms around him to save him from this agony. Isn’t this what Jesus is doing for us? He wants to save us. He wants to wrap his arms around us and bring us home. No matter what we have said or done in our lives, he only sees perfection. He agonized in the garden and suffered the most horrible death for us. As I felt the tears stream down my face, I sat and prayed for all of those who need prayer and asked God to help me always remember this walk with Him that day.
On my way back down the hill, I was overcome by the sweet smell of evergreen. I stopped, closed my eyes and took many deep breaths of this amazing aroma. I asked myself, “When is the last time I stopped and took a deep breath?”. I honestly couldn’t remember.
During my walk, I encountered Jesus. I encountered him in all five senses. First, in seeing God’s beautiful creation, second in hearing the wonderful sounds of the leaves, wind, and animals, third in touching the beautiful statues and imagining God’s presence, fourth in smelling the wonderful aromas God has made available through nature, and lastly by tasting the sweetness of what heaven must be like.
May we all take moments throughout our lives to breathe, open our eyes and see, reach out to touch others, listen for God’s voice, and strive to taste heaven on earth.