(Please note, this was written before the first COVID lockdown)
I was recently lucky enough to visit Lee Abbey on the North Devon coast of England,
for a bit of a retreat.
At this point I’m sure that most of you are at work as am I normally,
and the last thing you want to hear is all out someone’s holiday,
however I have decided to briefly record one of my experiences
as it did allow me to explore an area that I often find difficult – worship!
I withdrew on a daily basis to the woods
and took with me the words of one of my personal heroes – Thomas Merton.
“When your tongue is silent, you can rest in the silence of the forest.
When your imagination is silent, the forest speaks to you.”
I spent several hours sitting amongst the great trees listening to the sounds
of the summer forest marvelling at the size and age of these great plants.
I wrote this little verse:
I sat amongst the giant trees
Beech and father oak
To see if they will speak to me
From bark and leafy cloak
I cannot hear their ancient voice
Save chirp and buzzing fly
For these are now their words of choice
With harmonies from high
Finally their voice is heard
But not for human ear
It takes a year to say one word.
“I think I’ll stay right here”.
Although slightly comic, it reflected a more serious side to those precious hours. I felt humbled by the tree’s simple lesson of age and singular purpose; to grow upwards towards the light. Only then will they bear the fruit of acorn and mast.
I then looked down to see a squirrel sitting no more than four feet from me. Whether you love them or hate them, this little chap was quite happy to sit there watching me, and I found myself feeling privileged over the encounter. After what seemed like several minutes, he looked up at me again and then hopped off down the path.
As a Solitary, I can sometimes find corporate worship slightly uncomfortable. Again, I need to re-emphasize my non-dualist outlook, in that just because it’s not my cup of tea does not make it wrong – far from it. But, for me that day, to simply worship Him in silence, alone, while being drenched in the Gospel, as spoken through His wonderful creation…
This seemed to be my job for the day.
Photo by James Doney