It was my second time attending a *JourneyMates Morning Apart, so I pretty much knew what to expect:
Quiet. Lots and lots of quiet.
The quiet threw me the first time I visited, but not because silence makes me uncomfortable. I love silence—crave it even; bring on all the silence! But I if I wanted peace and quiet and space to be with God, why would I want to be in a room with thirty other women?
I spent the next three hours pretending to look pensive and reverent, but I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Not for me, I thought.
But a lot can change in three years.
My journey had led me to discover some new (old—ancient, even) Spiritual practices that were contemplative in nature and I had met a new friend who became my Spiritual Director; she taught me how to notice and respond to God’s presence and invitation, to practice soul care, to simply be with God without all the trappings I was used to.
I couldn’t get enough. And so, when she suggests I attend JourneyMates, I decide to give it another try and register for the next monthly gathering.
This time, the quiet is a balm and a blessing, oil on my head, dripping down my arms and hands and pouring onto the pages of my journal. After a period of guided silence and a time of marinating in Scripture through lectio divina ( “divine reading” ) and a short devotion, we have roughly an hour and forty-five minutes of glorious silence to seek and spend time with God; to find a comfy chair, nibble on a scone, take a walk, or gather around the fire pit.
I make a beeline for the fire pit.
The leaves are golden, the silence even more golden. Five strangers huddle silently around a circle of charred stones and logs that refuse to light and I think, “I’ve found my place. I’ve found my people.”
I follow its drift, pick up my pen and find my voice.
A solitary seat left at the fire pit… mine!
spiced cider, a cozy blanket
and a fire that is slow to catch
I shiver, not dressed for the occasion
the kindling belches smoke
reluctant to embrace the burn
a poke or two to adjust the logs
and like magic, they ignite
one after another
branches blaze up in a show of unity
I join in:
reignite me, I cry
do not extinguish this smoldering wick
BURN IN ME
and I will bake bread in the embers
A fireside prayer:
Lord, thank you for this new path you are showing me. I am finally becoming the me I’m meant to be. No longer drawn to the clamoring crowds, or to the rowdy, riotous worship I was used to, it’s the stillness that draws me now. The gift of attention. To see You in the details that I used to overlook.
The call of small.
Father, you created me to burn, each flame and flicker an invitation to any who crave warmth.
I finally understand, I don’t get to choose who that is, but I think I know …
The ones left out in the cold.
The ones with a handful of sticks but no match.
The shivering, shaking, shy souls hanging by a thread, daring to believe that maybe, just maybe, there is hope.
It is crucial that I tend my flame, carry my coals, be mindful of the Holy Ghost prods that nudge me to make room, space, for the flames to catch.
Do what you have to do to keep my fire burning: re-arrange the logs of my life that are slow to ignite; add kindling. I embrace the choking smoke that erupts before the flames take hold, I accept the messiness—the ashes that float and fall, the odor that clings afterwards.
If I smell like smoke, so be it. I smell like You.
*JourneyMates, an interdenominational Christian ministry of soul care and spiritual formation, is designed to open time and space for Christians to simply be with God and to notice and respond to God’s presence and invitation within and around them. JM began with the vision of gathering like-hearted Christians together around the shared desire and intention to be prayerfully present, attentive and authentic with and through the presence of the Triune God in Christ.