Our half term break starts tomorrow which has me thinking of more time for fun and play than is possible most weeks. I am working on Paul’s computer which has all sorts of different photographs on it than mine has and came across this one and it reminded me of something I had written about another holiday and that sense of anticipation which comes with a change of scene:
I cannot really describe the sense of anticipation I felt in arriving at the place I hoped would fulfil a long held dream [Lapland where I hoped to see the Northern Lights]. It is that funny mix of hope and fear. As an introvert it often feels like I live in my head and sometimes I don’t really notice what is going on in the world around me. However, that was not true at night time, in the outdoors, hoping, just hoping for a glimpse. It reminded me of when I was a new Christian and that’s how I felt about God and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. What would happen next? Where would I see God? How might he speak to me? My first experience was looking into the darkness, into the night sky which was pierced by stars – tiny pockets of light that always remind me how vast the universe is, and how big my God is. We did see glimpses of the northern lights on the Saturday night and the word that best described those to me was ‘dancing’, this green phenomenon danced across the sky, shimmering, beautiful, coming and going with seemingly no rhyme or reason. However it was the Sunday night where we saw what was one of the best displays of the season. Sunday evening was the highlight of the trip – snowmobiles across the frozen river into the wilderness for a meal cooked in a wooden hut with a barbecue in the middle. We had barely begun our meal when someone came in and announced, ‘They’re here!’ Now I am not renowned for leaving food uneaten but this was something that I had travelled miles for and had longed to see for so many years, perhaps I felt a little of what Simeon experienced when he finally felt he had seen the Messiah. I felt so privileged, here I was, in the middle of nowhere and here was this most amazing display of nature’s creativity put on for a few of us. I kept scanning the sky for a glimpse of the next flash, the next wave, the next shimmering magical phenomenon that filled me with awe, helped me experience the mysterious, the magical, what seemed to be the miraculous. The only way you could fully appreciate it was to lay down on your back in the snow to look up at the sky and see the aurora borealis in all its glory. I was contemplating God’s greatness and majesty through this display of his magical creativity. It will live with me forever. I am challenged by my sense of anticipation, my passion and enthusiasm and sense of awe. I want all of that to be part of my relationship with God regularly not as a special one off. I have memories of the feelings and emotions, the excitement, I felt playful and childlike, overwhelmed and caught up with the moment. It took me out of my grown up world and reminded me of what it was like to be a child where things are special and exciting not jaded and disappointing’ (Sally’s journal January 2007).
This is an extract from our book Tools for Reflective Ministry and a chapter on reflecting with nature.