Yesterday I had a Quiet Day in the Mourne mountains, Co. Down.
I went with 3 friends to The Herrons, which is part of the ministry of the Quiet Garden Movement - ‘A simple ministry of hospitality and prayer’.
Run by Eva Needham, it is a delightful house set in the beautiful countryside of the Mourne mountains, with views such as this all around.
When we arrived at 10am, we were graciously welcomed by Eva and her husband Ken and treated to coffee and tea while we relaxed in their lounge in front of a cosy fire. Eva allocated each of us to a different room, which would be ours for the day. Then, encouraging us to relax and quieten ourselves, she read from Mark 6:30-32:
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told Him all that they had done and taught.
He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place by yourselves and rest awhile’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Then we each dispersed to our own solitary space, where we were free to read, pray, reflect, meditate or even sleep. Each of us had been given our own mug for the day, which we could fill with tea or coffee when we wanted, and at 12.30 there was a lovely lunch of soup, breads, cheeses, salad and fruit which we helped ourselves to and ate at any table we chose, while remaining quiet.
We were also free to roam around the house and sit in different places, as well as walk in the beautiful gardens or explore the countryside around us.
At 1.30pm, we met up again in the cosy lounge, where Eva once again read to us, this time from Psalm 37, before sending us off again on our own for another two hours. At the end of that time, we came together, some of us shared a little of how we had found the day, and we concluded with a simple time of sharing communion together.
It was a wonderful privilege to be able to spend a day just being quiet before the Lord, with no deadlines to worry about, no agenda pressing in on us, just space and quiet and time to be – to be with God.
I personally began the day thinking about the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:
Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
I thought about the privilege of coming away from all the things which distract me – and of being able to choose ‘the good portion’ for the day – sitting at Jesus’ feet. Rather than bringing him the long list of things which were on my mind, I decided to just wait for Him to say what He wanted to say. I thought about the privilege of sitting at His feet – and my eyes fell on a foot cushion. The sun was shining through the window, where there was a glass cross hanging, and the sun was casting the shadow of the cross on to the cushion.
This is where it is our privilege to live – in the shadow of the cross. It is that shadow which shows us the love of Jesus, and also which shows us the love of the Father.
My ESV Study Bible for the above passage directed me to Luke 12:
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
I thought of all the things which so easily distract me, the things which make me anxious, and I brought each one to the Lord, releasing them up to Him. Why are we not to worry, according to this passage?
(a) because there are more important things to think about in life.
(b) because just as surely as the Creator of the birds and flowers looks after them, He will look after us.
(c) because worry will not accomplish a thing.
(d) because our Father knows what we need.
That last phrase had a powerful impact on me as I sat quietly and reflected: Your Father knows. Your Father knows all your hopes and dreams. Your Father knows all your disappointments and heartaches. Your Father knows.
Beside me on the bookshelf was a statue of a little child nestling in the palm of a hand.
That’s where I am – in the palm of my Father’s hand.
I will keep you safe in the palm of my hand. Isaiah 51:16.
As I sat quietly, I had been moved to tears – and my tears seemed to mirror the rain which was now pelting down on the window panes as a storm moved across the landscape. Through my tears, I looked through the window, through the rain – and saw a light, a faint light flickering in the distance but then growing stronger and stronger. It was the light of a lighthouse on the other side of the bay.
And it seemed to me that my Father was saying to me, ‘I’ll see you home’.
Don’t worry about a thing. Your Father knows. And He will see you home.