Two years ago I went to a weekend retreat at a monastery near St David, Arizona. I arrived early in order to walk down to the San Pedro River and get off to a quiet start. After a walk I moved into my room, which was separate from any others, due to the pandemic.
When it was time to go to dinner and meet others, I opened the door of my quarters, and behold, there was a peacock waiting for me! I was shocked and did not expect it at all. But I was thrilled, since I think they are one of the most amazing looking birds and give startling evidence of a creative and good God.
I ended up making friends with a number of them, and they enjoyed eating nuts out of my bare hand. One of them even did me the favor of SCREECHING in my face, yikes. I also made friends with some of the humans at the retreat too! Although that wasn’t as memorable. =)
Also, early one morning, I wandered into a library like room. I gazed through some books and pulled one out, that talked about the mystery of God. It was old and written like 500 years ago, adding some adventure to the choice. Early on, it mentioned three stages of maturing faith.
The first stage is like being a child. The focus is on learning the rules. Things go well when you learn to obey your authorities. Do this, don’t do that. We can make our religions like that, focusing on some rules to keep and boundaries to define who is in, and who is out; and how God treats us, ho hum.
The second stage is like being a youth. We start to think for ourselves and need to reason things out. It is wise for us to keep some of the early boundaries, but sometimes we test those. We are taught to make sense out of the world and to solve problems. We make systems out of ideas. It even works sometimes! But we can do the same with God. We can explain it all. We can put life and God in boxes that fit our theories or doctrines. Or even toss out God, since we are SO smart, or so we muse.
Yet, a third stage exists, and it has no boundaries. It doesn’t always obey the rules or fit in the boxes. It opens the doors of awe, emotion, time and the supernatural. Coincidence is the norm and surprise the expected, like a peacock at just the right moment or the right book; a surge of wonder, a warming of the heart, tears in the eyes. This is Jesus’ invitation to us: to ask… and receive… to seek …and find… to knock …and the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7).
In our volunteer work we try to make room for mystery. We get outside. We go new places. We invite the rain. We notice who drops by. We leave some flowers in a good spot. There are more stories to be told, and more interesting people, or birds to encounter. We invite you to get involved, in this mysterious world. And if you need somewhere to start, please do join us, it’s magical.