In with a stone – out with an acorn

I went in with a stone – and came out with an acorn.

Arrival – burdened, questioning, hurting.

Who am I? Where am I? Why did I?

Have I been faithful to God’s calling all those years ago?

What have I lost about and within myself?

What comes next?

 

Retreat.

Not to escape, but to face the challenge

To listen, to respond.

Whether the voice is still and small and calm

or crashes like a thunderstorm.

 

The skies are grey, my mood dark

yet I am hopeful.

God calls, God allows, God enables, God fulfils.

In the dark I am but a seed immersed in soil

lacking growth and lacking colour.

In the light I can be a flower, flourishing and unrestricted.

If I fail to be myself

If I fail to make my own kind of music

A light goes out on the Earth – a light only I can give.

 

So much to learn and rediscover about God.

So much to learn and rediscover about me.

 

And so the labyrinth beckons…

I go in carrying a stone –

nothing attractive about it, worn, dull and uninspiring.

Yet it represents all that weighs heavily upon me.

I enter feeling useless, hopeless, heavy-hearted.

When I stood at the crossroads did I take the right path?

Or did I move away from that first call,

away from fulfilment, away from the real me?

The stone is small but becomes more than it is.

I weep at what is, what was and what could have been.

 

The word of the Lord breaks through the clouds:

“I love you with an everlasting love…

I have continued my faithfulness to you…

I will turn your weeping into laughter…

I will comfort you and give you gladness for sorrow.”

 

I pause. I remember.

God didn’t bring me this far to abandon me.

Who has really brought me to life?

When did I feel most alive?

What are the people, things and attitudes that are deadening and that I need to leave behind?

 

I become aware of sights and sounds

Rustling leaves

bleating sheep

laughter

birdsong

I am not lost in the labyrinth,

just journeying through it.

 

As I reach the centre

I drop the stone, stand still and look around.

To the north is the wood with its many paths…

different possibilities.

To the east are fields and farmland.

To the west a wall – uninteresting

until you remember what lies beyond…

a garden of beauty and industry and growth

where stewards dig, plant, tidy and laugh.

To the south an oak tree –

how long has it stood there?

what characters and history has it witnessed?

In the distance a tractor hums,

sheep graze,

horses look over hedges

an owl hoots,

gardeners laugh at a misdiagnosed weed,

something moves among the branches

and somewhere, someone deep in prayerful contemplation

is distracted by a friendly cat.

 

All is calm.

It is as though my life has been travelling to this moment.

Time stands still…

… a breath… a heartbeat…

Then all resumes afresh.

 

I look down – and next to my discarded stone

lies an acorn.

I pick it up – a symbol of life, growth and new hope.

A reminder of how even the greatest thing begins small.

 

I start to laugh.

At what is, what was and what could be.

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

My sadness is forgotten

replaced by new vision, new possibilities…

The way of contemplation and the way of action.

 

As the week passes together we recognise the sacraments in the everyday and the ordinary

The God with us

The Christ who lived and died and rose again

Living each day as if it were our first.

But now – in this moment –

lies something found and something rediscovered.

The one who called now leads me on.

I have the instruments to make my own kind of music

I have the voice to sing my own special song

I have the strength to explore new paths.

 

Hopes and dreams become

what happens next

Who I am – what I am – where I need to be

And in the distance

The horses shake their heads

toss their manes

and start to gallop.

 

 

David Guest, written on retreat at Launde Abbey, August 2018

 

 

 

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