My short walk from my house to the Sugarland Community Church down the road is perhaps about the same distance from the retreat house to the monastery I stayed several times. I loved that monastery so much that when I returned from Hawaii, I asked the vocation director if they would receive me. The retreat house was located about half a mile from the monastery. You could drive it, but the gravel is so untamed. When I was there the first time, I was worried my car would get ruined. Next time I stayed, I did not own a car so I had no choice but to walk. On the walk to the monastery, you would walk by a herd of cows on your left. After that, it’s just you and the thick woods with only the narrow gravel path to guide you. The only sound you hear would be the constant chirping of the birds and the gentle sound of leaves brushing each other every time the breeze whooshes by. If the breeze stops, and birds decide to give you a chance to contribute to the peaceful orchestra of the harmonic sound of the woods, then you could hear your own breathing. When you recognize your own breath, you may be surprised how gentle, how peaceful, how calming of a being you are.
I was walking that same path from the retreat house to the monastery this afternoon in spirit. All the same elements were present: the trees, the birds, the breeze, and my own quiet breath. The peace and joy I felt on my walk to the monastery was ever-present in my heart, and this afternoon, God’s glory in the moment was so bright, so unbelievably beautiful that I almost believed I was on the path to heaven. “Look,” I felt like shouting just as Stephen did (Acts 7:56), “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Glory to God for the beauty of this perfect spring day. Glory to God for letting life shine forth after the heavy rain through the night. And glory to God for the hope and joy of knowing Christ as our Lord. I now see the glory of God descending from heaven pouring down on us like shower of blessing. How could I have missed something so obvious as this for all those years? How could I have carried on through that torturous darkness unless it was by God’s shower of blessing? Even before I knew Him, He knew me. He kindly and wondrously sustained my life waiting for the day that I would run to Him as a child runs to her beloved father. It was His great plan to do so. It was His great joy.
As I have done on those walks at the monastery, I found myself being immersed in the happiness and joy of God’s glory on my short walk to the abandoned church just down the road. No, I do not live in a monastery as I have dreamed of for so long. No, the empty church down the road from my house does not keep vigil anymore because it has long forgotten its heyday. After my walk is done, my daily battles await me. I have things to get done and have people I need to reach out. No, I am not on a silent retreat. But this short walk quickly restores the state of my soul to the monastic peace and divine solitude. It is my prayer that my interior world will be filled with these eternal values no matter what my circumstances may be on the outside. The way to experience a taste of eternal life in the walk of life on earth is to keep our gaze on Jesus and Him alone. In any circumstances, no matter how harsh it may be, you must train your eyes to see “heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God”. Every day, give glory, just give glory to God for all things visible and invisible. Never stop giving praises to God for what He is doing each day from the rising to the setting of the sun.
“What a blessing it is to know Christ, the Good Shepherd, to know him as the Redeemer who laid down his life for the sheep, to know him as the Risen Lord, the source of everlasting joy and life.” – St. John Paul II