I had a stinky beach walk today; The tide was high so the beach was tiny, it was stormy and terribly grey and the drizzle down there was heavy, almost rain, unrelenting. We trudged along the scrubby beach, muddy and littered with branches, lumps of wood, the rubbish of the sea, and wandered into the dunes for some shelter. My glasses were misted and my coat was not as waterproof as its label suggested, the dogs were unexcited and drenched. Bum.
I have a few concerns in my life just now and they flit in and out of my sight like those unpredictably darting bats we see at twilight. My head was away with the fairies, the day to day stuff, the “I’ll say this” and the “They’ll say that” and the “Then I’ll say that…” stuff. A head full of nonsense. So what was I to do with this lousy rotten drowned walk, when it’s meant to be a time of intentional prayer, a time set aside and offered to God, a time of thankfulness and worship and amazing grace?
It probably took me about 15 minutes to realise that I wasn’t praying. The length of the beach. I wasn’t even going through the bare forms of prayer. Prayer transforms us and boy, did I need transformation! I mean, I always do, but right there, at that drowned rat moment, I was aware of needing it, big time.
You know, I believe that I am in eternity already. I believe that I am present through the torn curtain of the temple, in the presence of God. That two states exist in this addled mind at the same time – stuck in this world, and also there with God. But I have only one consciousness, I can focus on only one at a time, and the choice is mine, so which way do I turn?
So, wet as I was, with big fat raindrops on my specs distorting everything, I knew I had to step out of one world and into the other. To become more than a stumbling wreck of a woman, drowned and just a tiny tad (!) fed up, to be transformed into a worshipper, full of wonder and praise. How do I do that?
I don’t. God does.
As I plodded squelchily through the dunes, I remembered the torn curtain in the temple, and as I squinted through the raindrops at the narrow twisting path between the brambles and the grass, I thought of the narrow path to God (I do love a visual prompt, sometimes a flower, a road, a feather, a cloud) and that was it… I remembered that I’m not in this alone, that I am trudging along with the One who can do all things. And I remembered that He’s just waiting for me, and that He will draw me in. And that was it! In that simple thought God called me into prayer, where I belong, I was at home. Quietly and soberly elated. Apparently you can be soberly elated. It’s a thing.
God and prayer don’t only transform me, God and prayer transform the day. Suddenly the great billowing banks of Old Man’s Beard, higher than a rooftop, were beautiful, suddenly the distant call of Canada Geese was music, suddenly my two wet smelly dogs were miracles of his creation.
This is the old man’s beard… good, innit?
Prayer transforms. Hey – last week, in our sermon, we heard a quote from Athanasius, and it’s gorgeous. It’s delicious. It’s exciting and encouraging. Here it comes –
We are becoming, by faith, what God is, by nature.
That’s you and me.
Hah! Who cares about a little West Walesian rain and wind and greyness?