This past week, I was blessed to attend a leadership program through my church conference. I wasn’t sure what it would hold but I knew I was going into this time open, raw and trusting.
Part of the beauty of this event was the opportunity to have a bit of a sabbath from our day-to-day routines and responsibilities. It was no secret that I embraced that aspect wholeheartedly when presented with the invitation to attend.
Our group gathered at a Catholic conference center in the middle of the countryside–God could not have planned it better for me. I had attended a training there ten years ago, and whenever I venture near there in travel, I drive through and immerse myself in the serenity.
Part of our time spent this past week was focused on identifying our call and/or discerning God’s invitation to consider the next steps on that journey. I had been discerning for quite sometime, and my hope was that I would be able to meet God in this place and ask, “Now what, Lord?”
During our days, we engaged in some free time to spend on our own or with others. I found myself getting outdoors as much as possible in spite of the chilly, damp December weather. The campus rests gently at the top of a rolling hill which has naturally allowed for trees and thickets to create gathering places for birds and other small creatures.
Most of the trees on the front side of the lawn hung heavily with burnt orange cherries (if you know the name of this variety, will you please message me?). The bare branches could barely withstand the weight of the bountiful harvest.
As I stood below the largest one near the building, I scanned the nooks and crannies for nests. Birdsong wove itself around the tree and greeted me with much joy. When I came across one small creature perched on the upper right hand side, I paused for a moment and just observed. How could one small being sing forth with such presence?
Then I noticed something. There was more than one voice in that tree–it was a symphony shared by dozens.
In that moment, I realized that discerning our calling can be a bit like listening to those birds. When we are seeking the voice of God, it is easy to hear a bit of the song here and there as we go about our day. What we miss, however, is the richness of the experience because we are distracted by the world around us.
When we take the time to be still, reflect, meditate, and contemplate, we tune into all that God is sharing with us. We appreciate both melody and the harmony. We hear the full conversation.
As our time drew to a close on Thursday, I recognized that I was leaving in a very different place spiritually than where I was when I arrived. More importantly, I was reminded that I didn’t have to wait to come to this place to ask, “Now what, Lord?” I simply needed to make the time to be still and listen to God’s song for my heart.