How does one mend a life threaded with melancholy? When the world becomes too much and too loud? When one’s sighs become heavier and one’s thoughts more anxious? Throughout the gospels, we see Christ retire to a solitary place: a place of silence and solitude. He who was part man, part God also needed to remove himself from this world that can sweep over one like waves in a storm over the bow and sides of a fishing boat at sea. Leave the shouting and the bustling and the to-do lists. Leave behind the cell phone and the constant thrum of social media with its reckless words and constant need to be seen and be heard. Go to where one is not noticed, where one need not be heard or seen, but still and quiet and unnoticed. Where the shrill caw of a crow’s calling is calming and one leaves the well-trod path to wander beyond the fence to where only the fox can hear one’s confession.
I sit on the stream’s banks and desire for nothing more than its gentle reminder that grace can be found in the peace of simple things: such as watching the tadpoles gather. There is no need to buy or sell here. It is enough to notice and be aware. Rest in the beauty of the sunlight dappled on the mossy stones and water’s ripples. I sit and the only envy I feel is towards the rootedness of trees.
My soul learns from the water of the pond to be still. I close my eyes and heed only its reminder: Be still. Be still. Be still.
The only movement is the dance of a cluster of gnats that move in a kind of column.
The only sound is the crack of the mockingbird’s call. He moves along the ground: raising and lowering his wings. His song, like the compositions of my beloved Bach, are all “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be The Glory).
Nearby a box turtle is motionless, resting in the warmth of sunlight by the water’s edge. This is contentment.
This is why I come here. This is how my soul is comforted. This is how I remind myself at the beginning of creation God called it all “very good.” This is where my every breath is praise. This is where my every heartbeat is a prayer of gratitude. This is where my mouth cannot help but form the word: Alleluia.
As if this is not enough, I find the large feather of an owl and am humbled by this gift.
This is why I go deeper and deeper into the natural world: not just to be dazzled and delighted, but to be reminded, in quiet reflection, that all ground is holy ground and that the world is alive with miracle and mystery.