Space and Grace: Exploring the relationship between creation and restorative prayer
By Talitha Fraser —
When life becomes stressful and you find yourself burdened by matters personal or political, or holding things that are going on for friends or family you might find yourself seeking out space and grace to help you get through it. I found myself reflecting recently that those spaces I seek out aren’t incidental or metaphorical but instead can be a literal expression of what I feel or need – for instance, if I want today to be a new day and start over differently I might wake at dawn to watch that new start spark. If I feel small and struggling against bigger problems than I can overcome then lighting a candle can remind me just how much light that can still cast and how warm and encouraging that light can still be. If you have been hanging out for a day to end it might feel really good to watch it finally come to a close.
The water’s edge can be a powerful place. Jesus often spoke on the water and at the water’s edge. The vastness of a beach horizon can provide a sense of scale to reflection. The tides speak to larger rhythms we all participate in as created but may not be aware of or understand. Out and in, out and in… you can breathe with it and know what is full will be emptied, and what is rushed will slow. Rivers are rich landscapes – you know that what is passing now has passed by others before you and will pass by others after you. There is something special in the biodiversity of this – at once you are not alone and also you can ask: what does the river bring here with it? What will it carry away? If there are too many things in your mind competing for attention find one small remarkable thing to focus on and marvel at it. Become present to your surroundings and observe what is there to be seen – if you’re not too sure about this you might set out for a walk with a list of things to look for: feather, seed, bud, leaf, mushroom, flower, shell… leave it where and as you found it – it is where its meant to be. In its company you might have an understanding of this yourself, made as you were meant to be.
Seek out some high hill or mountain top for the view, from this perspective matters that might seem overwhelming might become smaller and less significant in the bigger scheme of things. Getting distance, physically, mentally, spiritually can be helpful – the city becomes its skyline, street lights can become like a twinkling field of stars. From this angle things might be softer and more beautiful, we can accept and appreciate them for their form and function day to day because we know when we step back they play a part in what our life is. Sitting around a fire can be a good place for talanoa or deep listening, so much can happen around a campfire… we might share ideas, stories, resolve problems, develop or maintain relationships… when Jesus healed the bleeding woman she “told him the whole truth”. When and with whom are you doing deep sharing and deep listening? Walks in the bush can require following a path and we do not know where it leads, we don’t always know if it will go up or down, or how long it will take, will it open out to a place where we can see and get our bearings or do we just follow it from its beginning to its natural end trusting it to lead us to where we want to be never knowing more than a few metres ahead what the path looks like.
I could continue…
If you need to feel grounded take off your shoes and walk on the grass. Feel the connection between your feet and the earth.
Make and use compost and you will come to understand that nothing is a waste. A seed has to die to become a plant. Our endings are the soil of our next beginning and everything can be turned to good purpose. Today’s crap is the fertiliser of the seeds we plant tomorrow.
Join a family dinner table if you need a timeout from your own headspace. Children require of you to be present and bear witness to their wonder, play, awareness of their needs – physical, social, emotional – let’s face it, you probably won’t be able to hear the voices in your head over the noise they make, that might be a rest you need.
Look at the stars. They have been used for navigation and to find our way home since time immemorial. People in different times and in different countries have told stories using the same stars – like the Pleiades also known as Krittika and Matariki. Pull a string and the rest of the world is attached. You are not alone. You are one among many and among all those who have ever been.
Hosea 2:14 reads “Therefore, behold I will allure her, and will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her heart” Be allured. Think about what you need and what grace each space speaks to your heart, that way you can be intentional about seeking out the space you need and be restored. Once you are there, present to place, pray. What insight do you gain about your circumstances from being in this place? How can you change them? Sometimes we can feel like circumstances and situations are out of our control and there’s nothing we can do but being present to them in space allows for responding creatively – how might it feel to light an extra candle? to take a flower home and put it in a vase where you can look at it daily? to invite your friends round to gather at the fire? In some small way this is making a difference, this is exercising choice This awareness can spill over as you practice it, then these will not be spaces you seek out at need but ones that you come to awareness of and welcome as they arrive in your day – at different times, by different light, in different seasons – space and grace.