Be still and know that I am God

A hawthorn flower

I am reminded in my evening prayer of the need to seek God with all my heart. The Northumbria Community evening prayer seems all the more apt to use today as this morning Terry and I were on Holy Island for a couple of hours.

Psalm 27: 8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek…… But do I?

Jeremiah 29: 12-14 “Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord,”

I am reminded in tonight’s readings and reflection of the need to spend time being still and simply knowing God is there and loves you.

This seems to tie in with the poem I wrote back in 1990 on a parish retreat. This was a new experience for me in which I learnt about a different way of prayer. We were told to go for a walk and look around us and let the surroundings ‘speak’ to us. I enjoy this type of prayer and often find God speaking to me through what I can see.

That day I heard the invitation to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It’s one that I receive on a regular basis. I needed to become calm, to still the negative voices and distractions. Walking and looking at the hedgerows, the hill etc is one way of doing this. To really take notice of the details can simultaneously draw attention away from oneself and be open to reflect more deeply about oneself.

That day as I walked along one of the lanes and picked a hawthorn in flower, I became aware at a deeper level of God’s love and his acceptance of me as I am. As I considered the hedgerows, I felt thankful to God for them. And I considered the difference between the fairly ordinary hawthorn and the more elegant and popular rose. If I were to be a flower I would rather be a beautiful rose than an ordinary flower in the hedgerow. However as I thanked God for the hawthorns I realised that it was just as beautiful as a rose, but different, and that I should be glad that God made me to be me. I felt that God was saying that he loves me as I am and it didn’t matter whether I was thorn or rose, he made me to be me and that I should be still and know that he loves me.

Meditation on a Hawthorn

Give thanks to the Lord for the hedgerows
the hawthorn and rose –
different but both with their own beauty.

Why is it, Lord, that we always want to be the obviously beautiful –
why can’t we be content with ourselves,
the way you made us?

Once picked, the thorn outshines the rose,
which soon fades,
perhaps I should listen when you say:

Be still my child and know that I love you,
what matter it if you are thorn or rose,
I made you to be you
Be still and know……

This time of prayer and writing the poem was also the first step of me accepting and valuing myself as I am and not wishing I were someone else. At the time I was not aware of how deep my self-hatred went. I was still at surface level of appearances. It took over 20 years for me to be able to say that I like myself and am glad I am me. There had been glimpses of it on the way but they hadn’t lasted.

I am now in a much better place emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, and would encourage anyone to be still, to be aware of God’s unconditional love and to accept themselves as they are, far from perfect, unique and loved.

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