The advice to stop once in a while to smell the roses is all well and good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work so well for me: I am anosmic, which means that I am lacking a sense of smell. Still …
I mentioned a few posts ago the book Unbinding Your Heart, by Martha Grace Reese, which small groups at my parish are working through together. One of the more useful parts, I think, of working through the book is the forty-day prayer journal. Of course, as a priest, I am assumed to already have the habit of “praying without ceasing,” and I try, with God’s help, do pray faithfully and at least often, if not constantly. (Although, simply living can be a prayer.) Still, we all can use a little positive reinforcement of good habits from time to time.
I noticed the nudges the other day, driving to work. Paused at a stop light, I saw the Holiday Inn to my right, and suddenly remembered that my daughter and her classmates would be in there, right now, taking an AP test. So I took a moment to pray for them, for their teachers, for the examiners, for the bus drivers whose responsibility it is to transport a precious cargo of precocious teenagers …
Moving on, passing under the highway bridge which has been under construction for months now, I realized that it has reached the point where there are bridge-builders working directly over the interstate traffic below, clearly visible through the openwork of the bridge’s structure. Quite terrifying! So I offered a prayer of thanksgiving for the workers and their lives and their families, and prayers for their safety; prayers for the guidance and wisdom of the bridge engineers, and prayers of awe for the gifts of those who can construct such heavy and concrete structures with their minds.
Cats offer frequent opportunities for prayer and reflection of the beauty of love, of being part of creation, of warmth and symbiotic relationships. Purring would be a good way to pray.
Noticing the nudges to stop and reflect on God’s divine creation, loving preservation, painstaking restoration of our lives can happen as the orange barrel flashes by; as the toddler laughs or screams in the checkout line; as the teenagers pretty themselves up for prom; as the scent of a rose hits (someone else’s) nose; as the sun sets.
Yesterday, driving the same interstate, in a different city, I saw the lake, and the sun’s evening salute to the day. I pulled off at the next exit, down past the marina to the dock, where so many people had gathered simply to look at the sun setting.
And I was one of them, drawn by the beauty of God’s promise; because the sunset placed a rainbow on our horizon, without the rain. A rainbow: the symbol of God’s promise to be with us, to love us, to continue to recreate us, with each passing day.