This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15
Morning prayer on a particular morning a few weeks ago was walking along the forest trail—two of us social distancing. It had rained and snowed during the night and early morning, but now the sun slanted through the branches and leaves, making a halo of light. I stop, still. I can hear the river burbling along, and birds are busy already, singing and chirping. It is peaceful. I feel myself relax. My attention flicks to the distant throb of traffic……’Return’.
My eyes come back to the view in front of me—-raindrops and melting snow from the trees are misting and sheeting down in the beams of sunshine. Something catches my eye—a drop of sapphire blue winks at me. I stare…such beauty! It holds me. ‘Return’.
A minute or two later, another drop glints—orangey-gold. I focus, holding my breath. I didn’t expect two colours! I wonder what others are possible in this gentle light show. And then I see it! A sparkle of ruby red. What a beautiful gift. I stand mesmerized. My heart settles within me. It is as if God is reminding me—in quietness and trust, in returning and rest is your strength and salvation. If I hadn’t stood still there, I wouldn’t have seen this.
This morning something on the radio about these not-normal ways of being with one another, in social distancing and isolation, in the realization that Easter would not be celebrated with my family, and the comment that this will likely be necessary till June sank into me like a stone. Until that moment, I’d felt strong, able to cope, but today I felt the heavy weight of apprehension. ‘Return’.
I recognize, as I stand looking at these jewels in the light of the forest, that I want to choose to return, to rest and trust in God. The rest of creation carries on in the fullness of springtime life—the white drooping sprays of Osoberry flowers, the dark-eyed juncos trilling their mating song, the glowing yellow lanterns of skunk cabbages all signal that life is still vibrant! I notice the effect of where I put my attention—-on the uncertainty, the fear– like the traffic sounds, they distract me from stillness, trust, rest. The invitation is to ‘Return’, in Hebrew, and in Greek, to a ‘change of mind’. The outcome is the same. As I return with heart and attention to God, my mind is changed. I see the treasure in the midst of the difficulty and unknown.
I was reminded in this Easter season that Jesus made the choice to endure the suffering of the cross. His strength rested in quietness and deep trust, in oneness with God. We are invited into the sustaining peace we find only with God.
AND THE QUIET OF TRUST WILL BE MY STRENGTH (rpt)
THE FRUIT OF SILENCE IS PRAYER
THE FRUIT OF PRAYER IS FAITH
THE FRUIT OF FAITH IS LOVE,
THE FRUIT OF LOVE IS PEACE
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:25-26
Ruth Des Cotes,
Imago Dei Christian Communities
For Group Discussion:
- What ways do you notice yourself being drawn into fear, anxiety, restlessness, doubt or any number of responses to these uncertain times?
- What helps you turn your gaze to God? How do you help yourself choose that focus?
- Where might you be aware of gifts in the midst of difficulty?
For Prayer: O God of strength, thank you that you welcome me into quietness with you. I turn back from the things which cause me fear and distress, desiring to know your care and peace over me, under me, around me and within me.