Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Journey

I'm spending the week here at Pine Springs Ranch (a camp site in Hemet, CA) for The Journey retreat hosted by my organization, The Leadership Institute. Last Tuesday evening I opened the first session of the Generation 17 (our latest Gen) with a talk on "Spiritual Companioning on the Journey." The following morning I gave a devotional message on the Psalms. I felt good about the two talks but right after that I came under the weather and felt sick. I must have caught the "bug" from one of the Journey participants. Last night was specially miserable for me as I tried to no avail to sleep but with the constant coughing and runny nose, it became nearly impossible to have a restful night. This morning didn't prove to be any better but I headed out just the same with some friends to check out a nearby lake. After just about a 10-minute drive we arrived into this magnificent area with such breathtaking scenery. We all couldn't wait to get down and stroll around. I walked and walked until I landed on a high spot on top of some huge rocks. It's been a while since I walked around a lake and this one is exceptionally beautiful and serene. The quietness seemed deafening at first but I soaked it all in. What a rich time of solitude even though it was a relatively brief time all by myself surrounded by those big rocks. I really felt like God was right beside me in that entire moment of quiet - something that I've never felt and sensed in a long time. It was as if I was savoring every minute of just "hanging out" with God and I was filled with peace in my soul. There was hardly any doubt in my heart that God was there with me. I could literally sense his presence in that place of stillness! What a gift I received today. It seems inconsequential and no big deal at all but for me it was a huge experience and I can't even begin to describe it. Anyway, I still feel weak and a bit sick physically but I feel so rested in my soul. This serves to be one of the greatest highlights of my Journey experience! God is good and is very present indeed!

Monday, January 12, 2009

"The Spiritual Work of Gratitude"

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.

Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.

From the Daily Meditation by Henri Nouwen (Bread for the Journey)