Is there a place in the world for you where everything feels right and at peace? A place where you feel centred, grounded, known? A place where God’s presence feels real and wonderful? For me, that place is Killarney Provincial Park. This week, as I’m preparing to spend eight days hiking in this sacred space, I’m also preparing to encounter God.
I’ve been wondering, why is it that I feel God’s presence most strongly in this place? What is it about camping trips that draw me into into the presence of the Divine? And what spiritual practices can I bring back with me from Killarney into everyday life? Here are three of my musings about this:
Sinking into Stillness
When I camp, I spend a lot of time sitting by the water or by the campfire doing nothing. That’s right, nothing. Sinking into this kind of stillness is about accepting myself as a very loved child of God who does not have to do anything in that moment, but can simply be in God’s presence. In my non-camping life, I’m wondering if I could practice this kind of stillness for a few minutes each day by dedicating the time it takes to drink my morning cup of tea to doing absolutely nothing but being present to my own heart and to God.
I’ll admit, I’m not always the best at accepting silence, even when I’m camping. After a few hours of non-stop chatter on a canoe trip, Steve suggested that I try and see the trip as a silent retreat. I probably pretended to be offended at the time, but really, Steve was onto something. God is most present to me when I turn off all the noise (including the noise of my own voice) and listen for something deeper; in the world around me and inside myself. Incorporating silence into my life at home might be as simple as doing the dishes without turning on a podcast.
Embracing the Natural World
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that when Jesus took time away from the crowd to pray, he didn’t shut himself up inside, he went off by himself to wild places like deserts, mountainsides and gardens. In nature it can feel like there are no barriers between us and the Divine. Of course, it’s easy for me to embrace the natural world when I’m camping in a wild and beautiful place like Killarney, and much more difficult from my balcony-less downtown apartment. Embracing the natural world in my everyday life might mean being intentional about spending some time outside everyday, whether it’s going for a run through the park or pulling weeds in my community garden plot.
My prayer is that God’s presence is real and wonderful in your life, whether you are spending these summer days in the wilderness or the urban jungle.