The retreat last weekend gave me plenty of time to think, pray and wander around Fulbourn village and nature reserve, where the event was held. I had prepared some reflections on Matthew 6:28: Consider the lilies of the field, see how they grow....... In the first session I focused on the need to stop and stare at the wonders around which show us our Creator. (In the second session we thought about what it means to 'consider how they grow'). As somebody has said: 'One can peer into the hand of God in this world by examining flowers'. Their beauty (unmatched even by Solomon) with such extravagance, profusion, detail speak volumes about creation that God intended to be good (Gen 1) and which he reclaims in new Creation with Christ.
At one point I retold a personal story. One of the English spiritual classics is a collection of Private Prayers by Lancelot Andrewes. I took an abbreviated copy of these prayers when I was away speaking at a conference in Canada. Afterwards, the organizers gave Carol and me a few days' quiet retreat in the mountains. We stayed in a remote cottage on a lakeside. A canoe was tethered at the water's edge. On the first morning I paddled the canoe some distance from shore for a quiet devotional time. I took out my prayer book. Many of the prayers are set out with spaces in between the words to stop you rushing through them. I opened it on the Tuesday morning prayers with a section entitled 'Commemoration' :
O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord.
that didst gather together the water into sea,
that didst bring to light the earth,
that didst bring forth the shoots
of herbs and fruitbearing trees.
The depths, the sea, lakes, rivers, fountains.
Earth, islands, mountains, hills, valleys, arable, meadows, woods,
The green things, grass, herbs and flowers for food, pleasure, healing.
The trees bearing fruits, wine, oil, spices.
I shall never forget bobbing up and down on the water, with eyes wide open, looking all around me and marveling in God's creation all around me. Especially, the green things. Just so many different greens! Hopefully, your eyes are open too.