The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…
– Jesus, Matthew 13.31
Today, Brook Fonceca and I took to the hills and ended up at an amazing retreat center on Mt. Herman called “Fasting Prayer Mountain of the World”. That’s an intense name, but the environment is hardly that. It exists mostly in harmony with the forest and is meticulously landscaped. Little hidden treasures are tucked away in massive hollowed out trunks where Redwood giants once stood. Life is growing, crawling, and sneaking around everywhere. Sometimes it even walks up and tries to help me be more present!
As I was walking around in nature of it all (the original cathedral), I was reminded of a phrase that has been with me since my early days of taking up a daily practice of Silent Prayer: At the Pace of Trees. Have you ever sat and watched a tree grow? Even just for a few minutes? It is maddeningly slow. Yet, its roots can destroy concrete and its limbs can break apart houses and cars. Just because we can’t watch its growth doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Something is definitely happening.
Jesus consistently tries to draw our attention to nature in order to see how it reveals God’s nature as well as our own. “Consider the lilies of the field,” he says. Adding, “Consider the birds of the air.” But how often do we as Christians actually do this? Maybe instead of trying to answer that question we should just use that energy to start doing it now!
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,” is a revelation of our own nature (spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical). It. Is. Such. A. Slow. Process.
Our lives operate at busy pace: wake, shower, maybe eat, out the door, drive, work, lunch, work, drive, dinner, home, tv, sleep, and repeat. Retreating to nature helps so much to reveal what’s really going on beneath all the busyness: Life. At the pace of trees.
As I look around and see the diverse condition of nature, I wonder, what’s the condition of my life? How is it being tended to and maintained? What am I doing to honor what and who I really am? Is the “mustard seed” within me being cared for? Or is it having to fend for itself because there isn’t someone tending to it?
Taking a personal retreat and acquiring a daily practice of Silent Prayer are two of the greatest things I have done for myself and my growing family. The healthy trees create a radius of health around them. People are exactly the same way. Nature is best when it’s being nurtured. I wish the practice of taking personal retreats and Silent Prayer were more a part of Christian culture and believe they slowly will be out of necessity.
At the pace of trees.