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I had the complete and untold joy of being part of a silent retreat based on the life and nature teachings of Thomas Merton this past weekend. This morning we were invited to meditate in nature based on these words:

 “A tree gives Glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God. It ‘consents’, so to speak, to God’s creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree. The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like God.” (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation)

With these words in mind ‘Consent to hear love speak through natures consent to be exactly what it is, according to the divine intention’, I sat in the sunshine at the side of a lake and I share the thoughts that came up:

I look at the lake directly ahead and I see her consenting to be exactly that which God intends for her to be.

Calm rippling under the fingers of a gently moving breeze, movement of the water keeping her from stagnating. As she stands she reflects back the trees and the sky and the hills around – reflecting them just as they are, adding nothing, removing nothing, only subtly reflecting the flexibility of her being which is moved at will by the fingers of the Spirit.

The breath. The breeze. The reflection.

Water gives life. The lake is part of a whole, part of the process and cycle of life. It is peaceful and light filled on the surface, dark and murky underneath. If I were to walk in that lake the muddy murkiness would frighten me with its cold unknownness, and yet if I walked on the bottom of that lake there would be nothing to be afraid of for it is only a lake. The underside of which is part of a whole too. Lake is exactly what it should be, light and dark, cool and nourishing, cold and murky – protecting the life that lives beneath the surface. In time, that which needs to rise to the surface will rise and that which doesn’t will stay hidden and protected.

God calls you to reflect back the place where you are – adding nothing and taking nothing away – reflecting what you see along with the ripples of your own being. The darkness which you reject or are frightened of, need not be frightening – it exists for your protection, to hold life at a far deeper level. The Spirit and the wind will stir things up when the time is right, light will penetrate as far as is necessary to maintain life. Your purpose is merely to be, to be as authentically and as simply as you can be allowing, through prayer and being, for God to move you and shine on you. Your darkness need not be seen as ‘other’ or scary and you can share what you see without fear – consent to be yourself as you consent to let others be their selves. No rejection, no judgment – just a reflection of one another as part of creation, as part of the whole, as part of the Kingdom that is God.

*** Solitude Retreat Centre is a home away from home for me and for many – the photos were taken there this morning…