Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mepkin Abbey Day 4

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Mepkin Abbey
Meals here are not a highlight of the day. They are very basic and similar to the previous day's meal. I like it. The mood set reminds me of the way we pull into a gas station to get the gas tank filled. It's a fact that the car won't run without energy ... neither will our bodies. So, three times a day, I pull into the dining area, eat a simple and quick meal, and move on down the road.

The contrast between this and the enormous emphasis on food in our country, and many developed nations, is astounding. Eating less brings a sense of humility that reminds you that there are many who have nothing to eat. Regardless of the simplicity of the choices, it brews a grateful heart to be fed at all, and to leave the table satisfied, breeds an attitude of prayer for those who are still hungry.

Today a bit of familiarity set in. Many of the words sung are repetitive. It's beginning to feel familiar to me. That helps me to settle in a bit deeper to what God has for me here. With too many new distractions, it's easy to get to thinking too much about the details around me. I seem to analyze everything so I have to watch my thoughts.

© Donna L. Watkins - Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
Although it's been a chilly day, the sun's warmth felt good to me and the butterflies. There's a huge labyrinth not far from my room and I felt today was the day for that. I don't know much about labyrinths other than that they're supposed to make you think about your path through life. That's something I think about all the time since I want so much to follow God's will and definitely spend too much time wondering if I'm in it.

This grassy path about 3 feet wide was planted on both sides with tall grasses and many varieties of wildflowers. As I entered I realized I didn't have a clue about where I was going. I found myself walking a little faster in the shady areas and as I thought about that, I heard God say, "I know you don't like being in the dark ... but there are sunny areas that this path will lead you to. Trust me and follow."

Life is like that. You can't see but a few steps ahead. You don't know when the next turn will be, or where it will go. We can choose to wonder and worry over all of that and miss what's at our feet now. I looked over the grasses to an area that had seats made from tree trunks and thought how nice it would be to sit in the sun there. I could tromp across the wildflowers and make it happen, but that didn't seem to be the right choice.

© Donna L. Watkins - Mepkin Labyrinth Late Fall Blooms
The thought reminded me of dreams I have. I look over and beyond where I'm at and dream of other places. Many times I gear my head and heart up to make it happen NOW ... but God's mercy saves me from bad timing and brings me back to the reality of today. Hopefully I choose to be content with that, rather than restless.

Contentment has been defined as "realizing that God has already provided everything I need for my present and future happiness." The secret of contentment is enjoying the presence of the Lord.

Dreams will come true ... but for today, it's about about taking the next few steps on the path you have in front of you. It's enough of an adventure. When you don't know what's ahead and you trust in the One who does, you can take in all the details of where you stand right now. I began to see the beauty of what was right at my feet and to appreciate each step forward.

My focus was now on the here and now. How alert I became to the details surrounding me and I found so much to be grateful for. How often do we miss the gifts that God has for us because we're looking too far ahead and not trusting Him to lead.

I noticed that when I walked in the dirt, it had some sand in it, so it was easy to leave footprints behind. The realization came to me that we leave footprints every day with our steps and choices in life. These footprints made it so obvious to me that my walk in life was being recorded.

Although I don't leave footprints in the dirt each day, my walk leaves a history behind me and an imprint on my soul. I want to visualize this as I think about how my choices affect not only me but those who follow behind me. Our choices affect our children and family and friends. I want to make my steps follow Jesus and not my own desires.

© Donna L. Watkins - Mepkin Northern Mockingbird
Suddenly while I wasn't looking for it, the path was at the entrance to the circle of seats I'd wanted to be in. I chose the one with the most sun shining on it and huddled in my black coat that soaked up the warmth. It was peaceful just being still. The thought came to me of God saying, "If you walk the path I put before you each day, and trust Me, I will give you rest, your burdens will be light, and your heart will be filled with warmth."

I didn't want to leave. I just wanted to be still. I thought of how the surface of a lake will not reflect an image. The water must be still to reflect what is above it. I want my life to be still enough that God's love can be reflected to all that surrounds me. We don't have to understand and know the whole journey. We can see God in everything and we won't miss the path He has for us if we spend plenty of still time with Him. Our provision will be abundant. There is no loss.

The devil will fill our days with busyness and anxiety about all the tomorrows if we let him. If you use your thinking time in the Word, you'll find life's path green and beautiful ... even after summer is past.

View entire Mepkin Abbey photo album.
Mepkin Abbey - Day Five.

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