In October 2009 just after completing my archaeology Masters coursework and right before headed back to the states, I retreated to Taize– a special spiritual center nestled in the Burgundy region of France. Sometimes I have trouble believing I was actually there. Looking back on the solo journey from Bristol to Paris where I boarded a train at the Gare du Nord then got off at a small station in the middle of the countryside where I was just hoping a bus that would take me Taize would show up, I am amazed I had the courage to take so many risks and just trust that everything would work out.
At Taize, the day is broken into periods of rest, prayer, work, and table fellowship. Prayer happens corporately three times a day and is characterized by silence and song. The unique music of Taize (sparsely accompanied, simple chanting) is what initially drew me to explore the prospect of retreating there. It’s simplicity provides a spiritual connection that I find myself falling back into at the most random times.
Tonight as I am laying down to rest, this chant adapted from a prayer of St. Teresa of Avila drifted into my mind.
Nada te turbe, nada te espante;
todo se pasa, Dios no se muda.
Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing distress you;
While all things fade away, God is unchanging.
I’ve felt distressed over the last few days– not by anything super serious, but just by the everyday struggles of adjusting to a new life phase in which I’m/we’re no longer students. Learning to adapt to new routines, schedules, and budgets as well as the continuing search for a job is overwhelming. Add to the mix that my little sisters just turned 25 and I am now less than a month away from a big birthday myself (the big 3-0), I feel a bit like the world is spinning and I’m trying to keep up. Yet God’s love/presence/grace in my life is steadfast and ultimately I know having the courage to trust that all will be well is what I am called to.
Tonight this chant feels like a place to rest for a while.
Funniest thing happened last night or I guess it was actually early this morning– Caleb and I both woke up to the sounds of a crying child. I am not kidding. We were both so confused. Our sleepy exchange follows:
We don’t have a baby.
No, we don’t. What is that?
I don’t know. It sounds like a crying kid.
Maybe it’s a cat. It could be a cat.
[wild cat shriek right outside our bedroom window]
There’s a neighborhood cat that hangs out on our porch. It’s a cat, but it sounded just like a child.
What would we do if someone left a baby on our front porch?
I have no idea.
Clearly we’re not ready to respond to a crying baby at 3 AM, but hey I’m counting it a victory that we both woke up. Made for a great laugh this morning when we remembered our sleepy powwow about the crying baby, aka crazy cat.
Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.
When I was little my favorite fairy tale was Snow White whose “skin was as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.” I loved having the story read to me and eventually memorized the whole picture book in which her story in vivid technicolor illustration was told and would “read” it to my parents. Already an academic overachiever, I took my beloved story book with me on my first day of kindergarten. I vaguely remember thinking that my school bag must not be empty even on that first day. [smile]
Snow’s been on my mind recently partly because I’ve just discovered the TV show Once Upon a Time on Netflix and partly because since our move last Tuesday I’ve found myself falling into a deep dreamless sleep each evening as if under a spell. I suspect however the only spell I’m actually under is a combination of no pressing responsibility and the comfort of sleeping under roofs that hold so many wonderful memories of times spent with family. Whatever the cause, I am grateful for this chance to catch up on my rest.
Today we will journey even further south to spend some time with Grammy and Granddaddy in Broxton. There where memories of dancing on the porch await, where every sip and bite tastes a bit sweeter, and where time seems to almost standstill, I look forward to a deep rest. With this rest, I can finally say goodbye to the remnants of mental exhaustion left over from the stress of stretching my mind in new ways over the last three years and begin to store up reserves for the exciting new adventures that await.
Today I am thankful for rest.
What are you grateful for?