“A few drops [of perfume from an atomizer] suffice for a whole body; a few pumps change the atmosphere in a room. That is how grace should work, I think. It does not convert the entire world or an entire society, but it does enrich the atmosphere.” – GRACE NOTES, Sept. 1, Philip Yancey
I missed you last week. As stated, I would try to keep up my modified spiritual disciplines and I actually did practice some of them, but God had a few of his own in mind for me. Why do things happen the way they do? I don’t know. But I’ve learned to look and listen for God in them.
I get anxious if there is no apparent plan. I want to be prepared. I want some control. Well….did you know that trains do not run on schedule? Ever? They are not just a little late; they are hours late. After finally boarding, I realize there are feelings running around inside me—anxiety about when we will get to our destination, fear about not having any control over the speed of the train, over the track; over people that I do not know riding along, etc.— I’ve interesting past experiences. The train stops in a tunnel with our car and a few others inside; I feel mild panic. Where is God, and what purpose does he have for all this? After a few deep breaths and a bit of centering, I begin to feel the presence and peace of Jesus. It’s a test, quite literally for the train, but also for me. It passes. I hope I do.
Observing, I see Jesus in lonely people wanting to visit. God calling? I see a beautiful creation from my window. We travel slowly enough so I can take photos. A God gift. By the way, I’m not able to study or read on the train, as planned, because it’s affecting my balance. I can only look and enjoy. Hmm.
When we finally arrive to be with family, I see Jesus in the miraculous healing of my mother. I see his provision when the car we had reserved for late arrival has been rented out and there is not a single car rental in town. My sister lends hers. There is new bonding in my family as we spend time together sharing stories and presence. Grace indeed. Healing. Awesome. Wonder-full.
My spiritual practices continue with a very late return train. Sigh. Our fellow travelers are a car full of students. It could be noisy. Why God? I remember the meditation by Philip Yancey partially quoted above. I’m reminded that prayer and presence can change the atmosphere where an apprentice of Jesus is. I pray for peace in our car. Given. Thank you.
I see Jesus in the hungry. He’s always there. Two young men (those I thought might be a problem) have been talking together. They have been on the train since California, are hours late and have had no food. Since train food is expensive, we bring our own. We have a bit more than a few fish and a little bread. Well, a lot more, actually, because that is who I am. I begin to feel a nudge. There isn’t enough to feed a whole car and I’m not sure I want to test that theory, but I know these two men are in my bundle so I fix a couple of bags of cheese, nuts and grapes which we give to them. One believes that we must be getting off. I respond that we aren’t but we have more than enough. One of them empties our lunch trash. Yes, I see God.
We were on the return train for 12 hours, but our reserved motel room was still available. Extra spiritual disciplines practiced! Why, all these circumstances? Why was I there in these? Because Jesus was, I believe.