Today, even as I think of ways I can improve my health in the coming year, I recall the words of St. Francis of Assisi who said, “I am who I am in the eyes of God—nothing more and nothing less.”
No blue sky today, I thought. But then I looked, perhaps for the first time that day, at the green. The green of the grass and the trees exploded into my vision and I was taken aback by the utter beauty and contrast of the wet green against the coldness of the rest of the landscape. I woke up, it seems. It’s not drab, I thought, it’s just God telling me to remember that beauty lies all around us, all the time, if we’ll only wake up and pay attention.
This “transfer of life” that takes place in the presence of real beauty is perhaps why we gasp, as if we’re being re-born and sucking in air for the first time. It’s why so many of us find God in nature, in wind-blown places where the spirit wanders as it pleases and finally comes to rest on our lips and helps us pray, help us whisper that “thank you.”
We can walk the paths of our lives and feel like the remains of someone else’s life, not realizing that we are actually choice spots of radiant beauty, vantage points from which others might someday be able to pass en route to glimpsing the glory of God just beyond us.
Like taking a walk on a serpentine path on which you cannot see the way ahead or know for sure where it ends, our lives of prayer immerse us in the mystery of God and reveal aspects of the divine that we cannot fathom from the place we began.
The call of the labyrinth, like the call of God, is to quiet our minds, to trust our steps and to move ever forward to the center, the unmoving mover of all.
Wisdom lies in our lived and contemplated experiences of our own unique journeys. Wisdom comes in reflection, in the integration of the multitude of our sacred moments with all that we have read and heard.
We need to take time to unplug from the stimuli of our lives, to take off our shoes and approach God as if the very ground we walk upon is holy.
Can we be liberated from those people and circumstances that have perhaps left deep and painful marks in our lives and on ours psyches? Can we repair the damage of past hurt?
“Writing,” Henri Nouwen wrote, “can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.”