Tag Archives: hermitage

Rock and View

In my last post, I described my initial yearning to be with God during my two night hermitage at Pacem in Terris. I wanted to be still and simply rest in my heavenly Father’s presence.

St John the Beloved hermitage insideThe inside of the hermitage encouraged my yearning. The large rocking chair helped me slowly rock my anxious thoughts away and enter into a time of quiet rest. Windows covered the whole east wall and the view, though not stunning, was calm and serene. The many trees were stripped of leaves and dappled with snow. In the distance I could see portions of a small snow-covered lake. The view invited me to be at peace.

I spent time simple rocking, reflecting, and reading scripture. I also was feeling blessed and  meditated on a favorite psalm, 103.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Later the Psalmist writes.

Who satisfies you with good as long as you live,
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. v5

I reflected on the down-to-earth satisfaction of being open to God’s Spirit. I prayed for all who seek satisfaction in our world. I prayed for my family, my congregation and the world, that we might be satisfied in God’s gracious love.

I went to bed early and slept well. I rose before dawn, observing the slowly brightening sky. I rocked as I watched the sky turn shades of red and magenta as the sun lifted over the horizon. What a simple yet profound joy to watch the sun give light and life to our world. That east window gave me perspective on my life.

Tahuya River near my father’s cabin

Years ago, my dad bought a small piece of property on the Tahuya River (really more of a creek than a river) in an isolated section of Washington state. Every week-end he would drive the thirty miles to the property where he constructed his own cabin in the woods. I had started seminary at the time; he was about the age I am now. He constructed the cabin without power tools, mixing the cement by hand with water from the river. It was a plain A-frame cabin, with few frills. He spent years building it.

I visited the cabin only three to four times during the time he owned it. I never slept in it; my dad rarely did either. One thing it seemed to lack in my memory were any large windows. I remember it as a dark, dreary place – though I also remember how satisfied and content my father was when he visited it. It was his place of rest.

We each need places of rest and restoration, though each of us may discover different places that suit our personality. I know that if I should ever build a cabin in the woods it will need windows and lots of them.

Where do you find your window on the world?

Lord Jesus, open the windows of my heart that I might see you.

Being the Beloved

Some people have an idealized image of their pastor as a person of automatic piety and prayer. They like to believe that their pastors are always walking with God, constantly filled with love of God and neighbor. But if one talks with a pastor for any length of time, one discovers that he or she is human, filled with flaws, failings and foibles. Yet hopefully, she also know where to go for restoration.

After a busy and emotionally draining season of church work, I knew my own flaws, failings and foibles were rising close to the surface. Fortunately my 12 step spirituality group had schedule a Step Eleven Retreat: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.” We had chosen to spend 1-2 days at Pacem in Terris where each of us would spend time in our individual tiny cabin called a hermitage.

Like anything new, I approached the retreat somewhat awkwardly, wondering if I had brought enough clothing for the sub-zero or enough reading material. It turned out I had plenty of each.

My Hermitage for two days

My hermitage for two days

The staff warmly welcomed me at the central house, gave me a brief orientation (“this is a place to rest your body, soul and spirit, so if your body needs a nap take it.”) and then took me out to my hermitage. Laura presented me with a basket of bread, cheese and fruit, showed me how to operate the gas burner for tea and how to light the sole gas lantern for light at night. Then she left me to be alone with God.

St. John the Beloved signEach hermitage is named after a saint, and mine was St. John the Beloved. I took that name to heart and read from John’s Gospel and I John, relishing the promise of God’s love

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, John 1:12

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. I John 3:1

I reflected on a piece of mission statement I wrote nearly twenty years ago

Created in the image of God,
baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
and empowered by the Holy Spirit,
I am a child of God,

In our culture, even the church culture, our value is often determined by what we produce: what have I accomplished, achieved and acquired. Yet in God’s economy, our value rests solely in being his child.

What a valuable reminder to rest in that promise.

When or where have you spent time alone with God?

Lord Jesus, thank you that I am your beloved.

Next post: Inside the little cabin in the woods.