St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional
“Early in the morning, while it was still dark,
Jesus got up and went out to a solitary place to pray.”
I am blessed to be able to ‘get away from it all’ occasionally to a cottage property owned by my ‘belle-mere’. It is, for me and my family, a place which offers the opportunity for a deep mindfulness of the presence of God the Creator…the majesty of the forest canopy, the fragrance of pine and cedar, the wind’s serenade, the endlessly changing panorama of sky and clouds, starry nights, dawns with promise. And the lake, in all of her moods.
In summertime, swimming is a popular pastime and although the dock is a great gathering place, one of my favourite things is to swim down the Lake. Not across, in competitive style, but simply down, with no destination. As I tire, I turn around and swim back. The water is cold. And I refuse to think of creatures who may be minding their own business underneath me! I’m not usually praying so much as letting go of mind engagement; just gliding through the water without purpose, except for the freedom of it, the joy. To float on my back watching clouds scuttle across the sky, not responsible for anyone or anything, for those few moments. (I do this safely, of course, with someone not too far away in a paddle boat or a canoe, just in case). I am reminded of a quote attributed to the French Jesuit priest and theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” Oh, to be able to capture that delight and serenity back at home, on a snowy February day!
I have to wonder, when Jesus went off by himself to pray, if he was looking for a break from the endless effort, the overwhelming need of the world and all its children? The scriptures note these ‘escapes’ a number of times, often when he was preparing for the next stage in his mission and usually someone came looking for him. “Oh, there you are! We couldn’t find you and we need…” I wonder if he thought, “A Saviour’s work is never done…”
But sometimes, it seems, he went into solitude just to recharge…to taste freedom, to recapture, and remember, the simple joy of being embraced by God.