“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Rumi
Discovering a greater bandwidth
I’ve discovered that while I draw my pictures I feel quiet and content, much the same as I feel when I more deliberately explore spending time in God’s presence. Creativity in some form is expressing a valuable part of our nature and is an especially personal element of our secret place. Not the traditional expectation of a ‘quiet time’ framed by a prayer list inspired by our concerns, or asking for anything in particular, or reading some sort of bible notes for the day, but an opportunity to be calm and happy in his presence; our minds open and ready for him to draw our attention to whatever he desires. A friend of mine describes this as being face to face with God, now that could open our eyes to the possibilities of our ordinary daily doings couldn’t it?
If, in our busy days, we don’t give time for simply being quiet, we aren’t giving ourselves much opportunity for gentle listening. What might we be missing? What sort of quiet does it need to be though? Aren’t our days already full enough?
What could it look like?
Many’s the time I’ve been absorbed in some activity, and have found myself in my imagination seeing a situation where I was talking to someone, only to find myself in that very situation a little later, and the words I’d seen myself saying were just what was needed in the moment. I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well, or something very like it. Maybe, like me, you’ve tended to regard it as an unusual happening, a bit of a fluke. I don’t see it like that any more. Now I think of it more as hearing God, and the activity, whatever it is, as a vehicle for that communication, even a form of prayer if you like; a method of quiet space and time with Jesus which is wired into each one of us in our own way, and because of that we may find it doesn’t necessarily add anything to our ‘to-do list’.
Your personally shaped secret place
Dwelling, abiding, being still, waiting on God, can seem challenging, the sort of thing ‘other’ people can do, (you know, the ones we can imagine walking with God in the cool of the day…the ones we feel in awe of…) but probably not us…not so well anyway.
Therefore, to discover our own path of intimacy, one specifically made for us through the way that we are made, can bring about a bit of a breakthrough. When this drops into our awareness, how simple and happy a reality it becomes. I want to go back to the line of poetry from Rumi that I began with: “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
What is it you love doing?
What is it that you love doing? What do you find yourself absorbed in? Baking? Cycling? Running? Drawing? Writing? Singing? Driving? Gardening? Walking? The list could go on and on, but you get my drift. Your days probably contain elements in which you find yourself immersed, so enjoy them, let yourself revel in the awareness that this, yes even this very ordinary thing, is part of your secret place with God. A place made especially for you.
Everything we do is in his presence
Our concept of time with God can be far too limited, if it doesn’t include scripture reading, and various forms of prayer, then we can be inclined to think it doesn’t ‘count’…(who’s doing the counting?)… I don’t know whether anyone has ever taught us this, or if we simply put it upon ourselves, but however we have picked this up it isn’t the whole truth. Everything we do is in his presence. The apostle Paul quoted the Greek poet Epimenides: “In him we live and move and have our being.” This is just as true for us as it was for Paul.
We are wrapped in his presence
How can we be outside of his presence? It isn’t possible. If anyone would understand this, it is the Psalmist David, he had had experience of attempting to escape the all pervading presence of God after he had betrayed those around him, but discovered it isn’t as easy as you’d imagine to get away from God, however much he might have liked to. In Psalm 139 David said: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”
It isn’t his presence that is lacking, but our awareness
We may not be able to be outside of the presence of God, but we can all too easily be unaware of being in his presence, so next time you find yourself pleasantly adrift as you perform some task, enjoy the mental calm and space, and be prepared to notice when he speaks to you in some way, often not in words, but more likely feelings, don’t brush them away, but engage with them afterwards, explore what they draw you to, is it helpful in some way? For example, peace is a powerful indicator of being in his presence, and who couldn’t benefit from a greater measure of peace?
Your true self
Brian Zahnd, Pastor of Word of Life Church, Missouri, says our true selves are calm content wise and unafraid, precisely because we are made in the image of God. Can you imagine God exhibiting the opposite of those qualities? God being agitated, grasping, foolish, and afraid? No, not really. We can grow in these qualities, too, as we learn to recognise his presence with us and in us as we are performing our ordinary day to day rhythms of life, and let him communicate with us as he wishes, transforming us as we do life with him.
Just in case
If by any chance you can’t think of anything you like to do which absorbs you, have a think back to when you were ten years old, what was it that you enjoyed doing back then? Would you like to explore some of those activities again?