Week Four, Day Three Joy
I invite you into the prayer practice of Visio Divina.
Breathe in to the count of three...exhale to the count of six or seven.
Breathe in the One who the psalmist sang out, "I lift up mine eyes"...exhale the times we have tunnel vision or see only perplexing problems.
Breathe in unconditional and unceasing love...breathe out our needs to prove that love to God, ourselves or others.
Breathe in the ways you are cultivating joy in these days...breathe out those voices trying to tell you that this is all just a waste of time.
Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture.
I invite you to imagine reaching out touching the rough bark of these trees so you can feel the pulse of time and centuries. What stirs within you? What starts to sing within you? What stories of being beneath the trees start to surface? Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
Consider the following questions:
What emotions does this image evoke in you?
What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you?
Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire.
No, this isn't a typo, although knowing my spelling and editing abilities, I can fully appreciate why that would be your first thought.
Thuja Plicata is the scientific classification for the Western Red Cedar.
See, you already learned something today to impress your family and friends at Christmas Eve dinner party. You are welcome.
These particular trees you are staring up at are 120 feet tall, 9 feet in circumference, and according to the sign at the park 400 years old.
You touch the tree to feel the pulse of centuries and time.
You touch the tree to feel the continued patient, persistent growth.
You touch the tree to feel your own smallness in life.
Nearby this growth of towering trees and was a quote from Hermann Hesse, "Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them can learn the truth."
One of the details of Christmas that stays and sticks with me is how Jesus was laid in a manger. We often have wooden mangers today in our sanctuaries, even as scholars or archaeologists tell us mangers were most commonly made of stone. Both parts of creation can hold long spans of time. They are witnesses to years upon years passing by and piling up. Both parts of creation played a role in Christ's life (wooden manger at Christmas and the stone in the Garden of Gethsemane).
Rather than staring at a picture or words today, I invite you to go out and touch the bark of a tree in your yard. Listen to stories the tree tells you and share a story from one of the rings in your life. Touch a tree to listen to time and share a time from when trees were sanctuary for you. I pray there is more than a trace of God's grace in that moment for you and it is a holy moment of cultivating joy in these days.