by Jenepher Lingelbach of East Barnard, VT
Wooded dawn-blue hills
Cushioned by soft fog
Stage the brilliant pirouette
of orange leaves
Against the rising Sun.
There is time
To Savor moments in the dawn
Before life hurries on.
A while back, I received a blessed disruption in the middle of a workday. Answering a knock at the church door revealed a traveling angel. He was a homeless man looking for some food and a tip on where to find shelter for the night. But before asking me for help finding these things ,he asked me if I would pray for him. I told him I would indeed and asked in turn if he would pray for me. We prayed the Lord’s Prayer at his request followed by my asking God to make God’s presence known to him in all his suffering and joy. This man had plenty of both. He then prayed for me that I would come to know that I was a good person but that I needed to relax a bit, live more in the present and that I would remember to take the time to just be quiet with God each day. Now, of course he said all this knowing virtually nothing about me. And I was struck at how apt his prescription was for my own current spiritual condition.
Like most of the angels I have met in my life, this angel was complicated and more than a bit troubled. Many people might describe him primarily by mannerisms indicating some sort of severe mental illness. He was truly struggling in his mind and in his soul. But despite this…no…along side of this, I saw a person of exemplary faith. For him, faith in God was everything and the only thing he really had or needed. He told me of his suffering at the hands of police, abusive parents, and the foster care system in Tennessee. But he also told me that with God’s help, he was able to use these experiences to understand what was truly important—the ability to slow down his troubled mind, breathe, meditate in silence, pray the Lord’s prayer and thank God for the beauty of the day and the blessing of the present. He would then ask how he could be like Jesus to those he encountered for the rest of the day. I watched him do this in front of me to quell an intense angry mood swing. Then he offered to teach me his meditation method he uses before prayer. He drew a sketch of Jesus for me that now hangs on my office wall. Before we parted, I had bought him a meal and secured him a place to stay for the night. However, his biggest request of me was not for help meeting his material needs. It was, rather, that I remember to be quiet with God everyday for just a few minutes so I would know the joy God had in store for me.
What this traveling angel and Jenepher’s poem above reminds me is that anytime we are feeling anxious, fearful or overcommitted, sitting still with God—savoring the present and being open to receiving God’s continuous reaching out towards us—will always yield some degree of peace and direction for our souls. The first step of discipleship is simple though most of us do it infrequently: to just sit still, breathe, and listen for God’s presence, love and call for just a little while each day before life hurries on.
May we continue forward in this autumn season and the many projects we are undertaking with the foundation of just a little prayer and meditation each day.
Peace be with you all,