My friend Silvia took me on an adventure last week. We packed little boy into the back of the Mazda 121 and headed off to rural outer Sydney. A brief stop at the village, but the water was turned off at the local cafe so we couldn't get a coffee - leave that until later.
Down a quiet tree-lined road, horse-studs round each corner, and finally we reached our destination. Canaan of God's Comfort - the home of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. http://www.marysisters.org.au/
Wearing old fashioned linen dresses and stout shoes, the nuns welcomed us quietly. They took time to smile and talk with us. We wandered along the prayer walk, through the stations of the cross, and sat for a while in the sun-dappled chapel. (Little boy made to preach his first sermon, the first time I had ever considered that one of our children may have their father's gifting.)
What a place to retreat and listen for God's voice. It made me wonder whether that is an important thing for me to do, spiritually. Some people would say we should always be busy as there's so much work to be done. Maybe I am one of them, because I've been part of churches where I felt like I just wasn't doing enough. I wonder if I encouraged other people to think that way, too?
In the middle of parenting, working, having time for people, I find it hard to take time to retreat, to listen. In theory, I know that Jesus took time to pray and left the crowds to do so. In practice, what does it mean for me? I feel a little like I am fumbling around at the moment, and the trip to the nuns has given me a glimpse of clarity. Their life of retreat and service is admirable, and I can see its value, while just wanting a brief taste of it from time to time.
The more I think about it, one thing stands out as having the movement of the spirit and the work of the Lord about it. My friend Silvia was God's message to me, her prayers for me, her desire to widen my spiritual view, to give me a space to see and hear God move. Praise God for friends, especially the ones that are an unexpected gift.