On my walk yesterday I took these pictures within a fifty foot span. Here were all these different leaves that God had created out of love. “God loves diversity,” was my only thought.
The pure in heart shall see God. The seeing of Him will be the sign that we are like Him, for only by being like Him can we see Him as He is. But when we shall be fit to look Him in the face, God only knows. That is the heart of my hopes by day and my dreams by night. To behold the face of Jesus seems to me the one thing to be desired.
These words by Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister (1824-1905) tell me what, as a person of faith, I must do; be pure in heart. That means to let go of judgments and to pray for an open heart. The two go together, me and God hand in hand, working in concert.
Iona, the thin space. I felt it my first visit here twenty years ago, and I felt it today at the same spot along to road to the Machair, among the same family of sheep.
Here’s what I wrote in 1996.
I walk along, the wind gently breathing upon a hovering medley of clouds. Stopping along the gravel road, lined on either side by sheep, I startle myself by saying out loud, perhaps to those sheep or to myself, perhaps to the universe or to God, “Life is simple; all we need to do is to love each other.” For the moment I am standing in the ‘thin place’, that liminal space between heaven and earth, between time and eternity. I am in the presence of God.
I knew I had come again to that liminal space, that thin space between heaven and earth. I knew by the silence that was God, who was and is and always will be beyond words. I couldn’t think of a thing; I knew there was nothing worth saying other than to love everyone. God was in my heart where love is, where all is simple.
Very grateful to be on Iona. I spent an hour in the quiet corner of the abbey this afternoon. At five o’clock the tourists are on their way to the ferry and those preparing for the evening service have not yet appeared. Very grateful for this time.
Next Wednesday I will take the little ferry from Mull to Iona for a week’s pilgrimage on the island. I will close the door to the many of the details of my everyday life so I can open myself to being in God’s presence. But like the woman in the painting, the door won’t be shut tight. Through prayer I will be present to family and friends.
“Remember, remember, remember,” I tell myself. ‘Pray the Jesus Prayer throughout the day, pray without ceasing.” Pray it not only as reminder that God is with me all the time but as a way to be present to the Holy Spirit. I pray it as I go about my daily activities; I pray it as a meditation. Sometimes I am conscious; sometimes it becomes a prayer of the heart.
We have to pay the entire gambit, from joy to concern and everything in between. Today we are celebrating the joy of our granddaughter’s fifteenth birthday and her brother’s graduation from high school. And yet, on the periphery of the family, my dad’s ninety-two year old cousins is living his last days surrounded by loved ones. Last week a friend’s nephew was killed in an automobile accident. My niece’s daughters are raising money for Aids. There is joy among the fans of winning baseball teams, and concern among others.
Jesus teaches us in all these situations: to remember the lilies of the field; that our treasure is in heaven; that he is with us always; and to lay our burdens upon him. Jesus’ joy is a different kind of joy, a joy that turns concern into hope.