Written while on retreat at Launde Abbey, September 2013
It was the bleeping dustcart
that awoke me from my retreat reverie.
Up till then, silence –
Apart from bleating sheep and chapel coughs, buzzing insects,
tweeting swifts and chirruping needleworkers.
Thoughts of coloured bins and waste
were something of a rude awakening!
As thoughts had not been on refuse,
but on rediscovery, reinterpretation, refreshment, renewal and reconnection.
How apt the Shepherd Psalm did seem:
“He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”
So to Launde Abbey – where once walked august canons and reformed Tudors
here now we stood.
Not looking to the past to tread in others’ footsteps,
but to the now and next on our own journeys.
Not seeking silence, but using silence to seek God.
And as I did, I realised I was not here as one weary and worn,
but buoyant and eager to learn
what God would say and how he would lead.
The Psalmist’s prayer became my own:
“Search me out, O God and know my heart;
try me and examine my thoughts and lead me in the way everlasting.”
In the silence and in the prayer,
in the holy place
of history and the sacred place of his creation,
I, too, could be creative
… and I could say:
“You are with me beyond my understanding;
God of my present, my past and future too.”
This retreat has not been an escape route –
a withdrawal when faced with the impossible.
But this has been finding God afresh and finding all things possible.
And, starting in the labyrinth, being amazed by the God of surprises,
the God of challenge, change and spontaneity.
And so I have turned my ears to the stillness;
rediscovered that person
al relationship that God seeks with us all.
I stand in the grounds and all is still…
Yet somewhere beyond the limits of my sight
are the distant sounds of more dustcarts, sirens, noise,
the bustle and clamour of the real world
of which even here we
are a part. But…
we have not been apart as we have sought God –
and ourselves – here.
This is not a place to linger, but to gain new perspective.
As we depart my prayer can be:
“Prepare me to carry your presence to the busy world beyond…”
The Shepherd Psalm sends me on my way:
“True to your word, you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.”
©David Guest, September 2013