Wednesday, October 7, 2009

God's Waiting Room

A few days ago, I was asked to speak to a group of seniors about Celtic Christianity. It was at a local retirement home, and as I got out of my car, I was struck how beautiful a place it really was. A large, well kept, high story building, surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and gardens. Serenity! Retirement homes are one of the few places I can go to and still feel like a youngster at fifty some years of age. Even so, I was impressed with the youthful spirit I encountered in several of the residents. One woman sang some familiar hymns and another resident remarked with a twinkle in his eye, he felt he was in "God’s waiting room".

We sat in a circle, and I provided a simple outline of some the major themes in Celtic Christianity; some of the history, the emphasis on desert spirituality, the importance of nature, a passion for mysticism, the tendency to live on the fringes and edges of culture. Folks wanted to speak about their connection with nature. Again and again I heard persons say in different ways how Nature was important to them, and as real as the person sitting next to you. As the microphone was passed around, one woman remarked how moved she is when she sees the beauty of the Hawaiian ocean and coral. Another person spoke of the magnificent sunrises and sunsets she sees from her window. Another felt a connection to the birds around her apartment, and as she spoke, I pictured her rising up early each morning to feed her favorites birds, her "companions". I was moved by these simple stories, and impressed by the deep and simple joy which came from the sun, the ocean, the birds and flowers. After the presentation, one of the attendees invited me to see the chapel, the St. Francis chapel, which was filled with plants, small fountain, and small statue of the monk himself. Perhaps this was "God's waiting room".

As I was leaving the complex, I realized what a vivid contrast this presented to our world of gadgets, tech toys, Facebook and Twitter! I recalled a couplet I learned as a young undergraduate in one of my English classes:

"What a pity, in a life full of care.
That no one has time, to stand and to stare"

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