Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram are probably sick of this flower as I am so fascinated by it that I keep posting it in my feeds. It is so beautiful that it formed the focus for much of my reflection over the last week. My eyes are drawn into the depths of its amazing shape and the beautiful delicate pattern of its petals.
It is unusual for us to still have such beautiful summer flowers in the garden this late into October, but this year we experienced the driest July to September on record, and October has not seen any rain at all yet either and temperatures are warmer than usual too. In contrast, Australia is experiencing the wettest year on record. Our climate is definitely changing, and there is grief and sadness in my heart as I look around me at the parched earth which contrasts with the beauty of these summer blooms.
I always say goodbye to summer’s beauty with regret but this year, as I experience the sadness of the state of our world, I crave the beauty of these last vestiges of the season. In Prayer in the Night, Tish Harrison Warren comments that in her time of sorrow and distress she too craved beauty and wonder. She commented: “beauty is a reminder that there is more to our stories than sin, pain and death. There is eternal brilliance.” After her miscarriage she reveled in any hint that God was still at work giving goodness to the world. Beauty and wonder convinced her that God was still present and active in our world. “This wonder didn’t diminish the pain one bit” she comments, “But it did beget gratitude… The tenacity of glory and goodness, even in this shadowed world of tears, trains my eyes to pay attention, to stay alert not only to the darkness of our story but to the light as well.”
Her words send me out into the garden for one of my awe and wonder walks. And it’s not just the dahlias that caught my attention. The geraniums, nestled on our front porch where Tom and I eat our evening meal also beckoned and made me pause and gasp in awe. Then there is the Mandevilla, resplendent in pots on the front steps. It is still praising God with its spectacular velvet-like blooms of red and pink. They all speak of the beauty and wonder of God and though the flowers will soon fade, the glory of God that radiates from them will not.
Beauty is everywhere.
There is no space on earth
No pain too deep,
No barrier too hard,
No calamity too horrifying,
That the glory of God,
Cannot break through,
Like grass cracking through concrete.
So I trained my eyes and my ears,
To pay attention,
To stay alert,
To catch the Christ light,
Shining through every flower and person and created thing,
Illuminating the darkness with God’s eternal flame.
(c) Christine Sine
No matter the time of year, it’s important to pause and take time to reset and restore. An excellent way to do that? Take a personal retreat. Building a retreat into the rhythm of your life is a spiritual practice often lost in our helter-skelter, busyness-is-next-to-godliness world. This booklet is based on the most popular posts about spiritual retreats published on Godspacelight.com over the last few years and provides resources for taking a spiritual retreat either on your own or with a friend or spouse. Check it out in our shop!