Abbey Journal – “Hand of God”
Friday, October 7, 2011 8:30 am
I literally woke up this morning with the song that is popular right now and playing in my mind the words, “This is where the healing begins, whoa, This is where the healing starts….” That’s all I could remember. I receive that.
What a beautiful day! 36 degrees, clear sky and sunny! I rolled out of bed to pull the shades on my windows and see what I couldn’t see last night. From one window, a view of the side of the redbrick with white trim house, remember I am on the second floor, and a grassy yard with various trees and a swing on it. Out the other window which looks out the back of the house, it is nothing but rolling hills, trees, pastures like a picture out of a New England magazine. I layered up in clothes and set out to see the property. It was too big to discover everything in one morning, but the wall of winter air that greeted me when I stepped outside was enough to wake me up and get me started!
Jesus says to “come to me all who are weary and heavy burden and I will give you rest.” I have been meditating on that the past few days to prepare myself for this trip. “Come” was the word that drew me in. I must take the first step in order for me to benefit from the “rest” part that Jesus offers me. I come to Jesus often in my heart, special times in the day set aside for God as well as many stolen moments on the fly; but today I have come away from the world to be with You, Jesus. I wonder what today will be like.
Joyous and Linda were enjoying breakfast together in the dining room, but I chose to take my breakfast up to the 3rd floor
3:30pm Christina had made me a CD of a few meditative type songs with scripture in it and brief guided prayers. I decided to start off with that. The second song/meditation led in a prayer of confession. I decided to pause the CD player, anticipating that the CD would not have paused long enough, to let the Spirit reveal to me everything I needed to confess. After the usual confession of over indulgence, pride and other things I will keep between me & God, I asked, “Is there anything else?” I waited in the quiet. “You try too hard” the Spirit whispered into my spirit. Well that set off an entire dialogue with God like, “How can I try too hard? How can that be a sin?” Needless to say, there was a good part of my morning, reflecting on this – enough to write an entire E-Encouragement maybe even a book! While nothing is resolved at this point, I did feel led to write it on this beautiful large hand that Joyous had given to us last night. We were to write the things that we need to leave here at the Abbey on to it to remind us. I told God I would write it down even though I didn’t fully get what it all meant. I don’t know whether the hand that Joyous gave us was supposed to be symbolic of our hand or God’s. I decided it was God’s hand. I was taking something out of mine and placing it in His.
After submitting to giving up something I don’t fully comprehend, I read in my new devotional book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Today’s devotional started with “IN ORDER TO HEAR MY VOICE, you must release all your worries into My care.” Really, that just happened to be the devotion for today. Following the devotion, there are scripture listed. The first one was First Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God…Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for You.” Again, really….the mighty hand of God that I just wrote something on to leave it with Him/here at the Abbey…I just wept.
I took my journal out to a sunny spot and sat for a while, enjoyed the warm sun & journaled several pages. Exhausted from all the contemplation, I went in and took a nap! For lunch, I warmed up some leftover soup, toasted some homemade bread that the nuns bake and ate lunch in one of the unoccupied rooms for a different view. Then onto the second floor closed in porch that overlooks the rolling hills, I read for a while in a book about Lillian Trasher, a missionary to Egypt in 1910. Extraordinary faith of never knowing where the next meal or other provisions would be coming from for she and her orphans, but God always provided.
One of the things I love about longer personal retreats like this is NO SCHEDULE or a minimal one at best. You get up when you want, eat when you’re hungry, wear your most comfiest of clothes, and no make-up (not that I wear much anyway.) Basically, I just pray and try to listen to what the Spirit wants to do and the Spirit & I meander through the day together. It is wonderful. Tonight after dinner, we decided to go to the 7pm service in the Abbey Chapel together. The nuns gather together 7 times a day to sing the Psalms. Each service is open and varies in its offering, but they always sing the Psalms in the Gregorian Chant/Singing style –I guess I will find out.
9:00pm The prayer service was different, reverent and beautiful. The Chapel was dimly lit with a single spotlight on the cross at the front of the chapel. The nuns strolled in a few at a time as the church bells chimed 7 o’clock. The chapel was obviously built to acoustically produce the most stunning sound of acappella voices. They didn’t have hymnbooks or Bibles, they have the Psalms memorized! I recognized the Psalm that was sung was Psalm 91, “…a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…” It gave me goose bumps.
David said in one of the Psalms that he stopped to praise God seven times a day. I don’t know if that is where this practice originated from for the nuns, but it is quite amazing. Apparently they begin with Psalm 1 and through the seven times a day, every day they work through singing all the Psalms, then start all over again. The first service of the day is at 3:20am. I don’t think I will be joining them for that one! I do like the thought of singing through the Psalms, though.