Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Presence of Peaceful People

I recently spent a day away at a Franciscan retreat center in Stoneville, NC. One of the perks of being a vocational minister is that you are allowed regular times of solitude and prayer as part of your work (though it saddens me to see how rarely colleagues and I take advantage of that privilege and how often we miss the importance of these recharging times). To take a day away is like plugging my soul into a spiritual generator, as I have time away from people, email, and the phone. But I can also be fooled into thinking that the only and best way for me to rest is in being by myself.

St. Francis Springs is a large center with hotel-style rooms, a large dining room, sitting room, library and chapel, and acres of woods to walk in, and surprisingly I had the place to myself, except for two of their staff and one volunteer. After a morning of prayer and Scripture study, spending time on a rock in the middle of a creek and walking in the woods, I was treated to a nice lunch with the staff, and I couldn’t help but find rest in being with them.

Do you know people who are just at deep rest with Christ, who exude His peace and love and calm? It’s a joy to be in their presence because that peace sort of drifts over to you. There are different ways that I have reacted to that peace in others – one time I met with a pastor whose soul-rest so contrasted the frazzled and dry state of my soul that I went back to my office and wept. Other times I have tried to emulate the rest and peace of others, tried to figure out how they got and what I needed to do to get there. But the best way I’ve found is to simply receive it and enjoy it as a gift. Rest is a gift from the Lord, a command with a loving purpose (which, actually, is true of all His commands), and the presence of peaceful people can usher us into a place of rest in the midst of community. I love to be around people like that, and I long to be one of them for others.


MarySuz said...

I'm glad to see you got some margin back in your life!

Caroline said...

I'm totally tracking with you Marphall, there's a great lady like you described in a Bible Study with me. I find myself wanting to spend more time with her so she'll rub off on me.