It was still dark as I walked to the guest cafeteria. The Rosemary bush was waiting:
Early morning walk Caressing the Rosemary The day’s first blessing
Later walking to the chapel to chant with the monks and praise God another blessing from Nature:
The path to worship Covered in Honeysuckle Aroma of God
I have always been blessed to experience the beauty and glory of God in Nature. It was no different at Mepkin Abbey whose beautiful grounds boarding on Cooper River afforded ample opportunities for silent meditation.
In blessed silence I heard the presence of God– Music of Nature
I came to the retreat hoping to grow in love for God and acquiring more of the compassion of Jesus. One day I walked in a labyrinth marked off by wildflowers.
In the labyrinth Unbidden a song arose: More love to Thee
In those seven grace-filled days, I also meditated on Scripture. With the psalmist, I learned to sing my own song, “All my life I will sing to you, my Jesus.” Over and over again as I read in the Gospels, I experienced the glad-hearted kindness of Jesus.
Blessed are the kind For they are children of God Kindness is divine
I was loved by God on this retreat and I returned home with more love and compassion for others–at least for a time. The ordinary world often makes compassion difficult, doesn’t it? So, my growth in love and compassion is far from complete. But in that wonderful retreat perhaps I sprouted a new blossom or two.
Trust in God’s slow work Transformation takes ages For each one of us
- As always, as you are moved, you may share this with others.
- If you are interested in retreats you may check out this web site: http://www.theanchorage.org.
This may be the last in this series of blogs on spiritual practices that can help us to sharpen the divine image within. All have been time-tested practices that have helped individuals grow spiritually. We have considered silence, journaling, holy reading (lectio divina), Gospel reading, and meditation. Today I want to affirm a newer practice that I have been doing for the past few years. It is composing haiku.
I write haiku for two reasons. First, it is fun. Yes, spiritual practices or disciplines do not have to be onerous. At least some of them can be fun and bring joy.
The second reason is that writing haiku helps me to be present. It helps me to be present to what I see and to what I read. For example, a day or two ago, I was walking around our neighborhood and noticed a tall weed on a hill-side. The ‘weed’ had a bushy head of yellow. Almost immediately haiku began to work its way into my consciousness. Eventually I wrote:
Springtime on hill-side
A four-foot weedy plant grows
Topped by yellow blooms
Writing haiku about nature helps me to be present to God in God’s creation.
Writing haiku also helps me to be present to my devotional reading. I have composed at least one haiku for each of the 150 psalms and I am presently writing a haiku in connection with my Gospel reading of the day. After reading a resurrection story in Luke’s Gospel earlier this week, I wrote the following;
Wild words of foolish women
Jesus is risen
The haiku form in English is simple–lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. But straining to make your experience of being present fit that pattern is not necessary. There are times when 4 syllables instead of 5 seem to work best. However, I do try not to have more syllables than the norm.
I heartily recommend Haiku–the Sacred Art: A Spiritual Practice in Three Lines by Margaret D. McGee. This book helped me to get started with writing haiku as a spiritual practice. It is a treasure.
Demanding one’s attention
Centering on truth