Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 14, 2013

PASTOR'S PEN: Sometimes pray with eyes open

Goshen News

---- — Not long ago, I noted a dirty area on our kitchen wall. I actually do not know how it occurred, nor when. But while doing my Prayer Walk (going throughout the house while praying for specific needs of others) I noticed this ugly stain and began to wonder what I could do to take care of it. Once I knew it was there — it seemed to grow in size, so I was truly determined to get rid of it. But scrubbing takes time ... and how long had it been there? Sometimes it’s easy to miss what is right in front of our eyes.

I recently read an article reminding me that living a life of prayer can include one’s entire body. Edward Hays shares, “Look around you! Our eyes are keyholes opening to a wonder world. With these twin gifts we peek out at the Divine Mystery which surrounds us in everything and everyone.” Especially during Advent, I’m reminded that we are invited to be especially alert to new ways God might invite us to pray.

On Saturday, I woke especially early. And considering the fact that I’d planned to sleep in, found myself irritated with my wide-awake brain. Finally frustrated by tossing and turning, I slipped into my robe and headed to the living room where I could enjoy our brightly lit Christmas tree. Perhaps, in spite of my annoyance at waking early, I can appreciate a new day.

I am reminded of the symbolism of Jesus being Light of the World. Christ’s birth offered Light that dispelled darkness — and this continues some 2,000 years later. During my early morning reflection, I pause. Lights illuminate and always draw me in. Perhaps God is inviting my personal introspection when I’d have preferred to rest.

As I soaked in the beauty during that early morning stillness, I appreciated a time of reverence. I smiled at the recently toppled tree. Not only had our family worked to topple it in the field the day after Thanksgiving, it had toppled earlier this week after being fully decorated. My dear husband arrived home to find it on its side. This second toppling wasn’t as fun as when our son’s girlfriend sawed it down. Perhaps God is inviting my thanksgiving in spite of those experiences I would prefer to avoid.

I viewed the recently restored ornaments, some of which had been shifted or were now facing backward. I’m reminded of the dear ones that once hand-crafted them, provided them as gifts, or specific years noted on the ornaments: Our son’s paper and bead work piece from at least 15 years ago, the paper laser nativity that crumpled in the recent tumble and “Our new home 1993” ornament when we first moved to the country. My life has been graced by many generous ones. Perhaps God is inviting me to pause to appreciate those that have touched my life.

And as my husband now works to refill the reservoir and excitedly tells me how much water the tree pulled in during the past 24 hours, I’m reminded of the significance of nourishment and water in my life. Water refreshes and revitalizes. I’m reminded of my baptism years ago. Baptism is a time of renewal and cleansing — an outward symbol of an inward transformation. I believe it is significant to have ongoing reminders of those baptismal waters. Perhaps God is inviting me to cleansing and awareness in this bustling season.

Sometimes it’s easy to miss what’s right in front of us; I’m again reminded of the spot on the wall that needed attention. Once I set my mind to it, I was surprised how quickly I could wipe it all away. Perhaps God is reminding me to sometimes pray with my eyes open.