A Flicker of Movement
Three days at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston, PA, was exactly what my spirit needed. The hermitage was a peaceful space with a beautiful porch and enclosed sitting area overlooking a wooded area. I spent hours reading, praying, writing in my journal, and watching the woods.
All kinds of wildlife made their home in those woods. I would sit quietly, hoping to spot the deer slowly making their way up and down the hill. The harder I sought them out, the more elusive they became.
When I turned my attention to reading, meditation, writing in my journal, it was then that the deer would appear. Focused on my book, the tiniest flicker of movement would catch my eye. A flash of white against the brown of the woods, the twitch of an ear, a minor step forward would announce the presence of the deer.
As I focused my gaze on the area of movement, it was almost mystical how one of these creatures would appear from the shadows. The deer never traveled alone. Once I saw one, there were always others nearby.
The key to seeing the deer clearly was discerning their slightest movements and watching expectantly as the deer revealed themselves.
So it is with God
Sometimes we desperately long to see God. We search the horizon of our lives for something, anything of God. But unfortunately, the harder we look, the less we see.
Not finding what we were expecting or longing to see, we give up looking.
We feel alone, abandoned. Questions arise:
- Is God real?
- Does God care?
- Is there something wrong with me?
A Glimpse of God
Frustrated by our lack of seeing, we get on with the business of life.
There, amid life, there are moments when we catch a glimpse of God. We are busy with a schedule to keep, errands to run, tasks to complete. Yet there it is, that unmistakable flicker of something bigger, grander, wider, deeper. The movement of the Spirit seeking to break in, upon, and through us has captured our attention.
- A sunrise or sunset captures and holds our attention.
- Our heart is quieted as we hold a newborn child.
- A stranger speaks the perfect words of peace into our lives.
- We travel with someone on their journey through this world, and something sacred happens in their final moments.
- We find the strength to seek forgiveness, and a damaged relationship is restored.
- The car before us pays for our coffee.
The unmistakable flicker of something bigger, grander, wider, deeper reveals itself.
- Will we stop, take time to be still?
- Our attention captured, will we explore what the Spirit is doing in our lives?
The deer who live in these woods are always present. The forest is theirs to move through every day. Yet, many days they go unnoticed. But, even when unseen, they are present. A lack of being seen does not make them any less real.
In my experience, there will be seasons where we might be less open to seeing or hearing God’s presence in our lives. However, it does not mean that God is not present.
In seasons of dryness, when the Spirit feels far away, it would be good to remember that just as the deer are always present in the woods, the Spirit of God is always on the move.
The Psalmist Speaks
When our hearts, filled with longing and loss, cry out with the words of the Psalmist:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants of you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1-2 NIV
It would do us well to remember the words of praise and thanksgiving the Psalmist declares as they understand that the Spirit of God is found all around us:
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Psalm 139: 5-10 msg
This post was originally a meditation as part of Tuesday Night Reflections. You can listen to it here:
Each Tuesday Night [6:30 – 7:30 pm] I host an online group where I offer a brief meditation, provide people time to comment, and then we share a little bit of life together. Some people come just to listen (which is totally fine). TNR is designed to be a low-key time to connect and think about how we are experiencing life, and how the Spirit is moving in our world.
If you would like to get a link for our times together send me an email: [email protected]