One morning this week I took a short break and sat for a few minutes in a pleasant little back-porch cove. The porch is bordered on three sides by our soaring chapel, the three-story Ottilia Hall, and our high-roofed dining room. A series of covered walkways on the fourth side keeps the spot feeling somewhat removed and distant from the lawns that spread on the other side of the buildings. As I sat tucked away in this protected spot, imagine my surprise when a flotilla of cherry blossoms arrived on a gust of wind, settling on my lap, shoulders, and head, having been lofted, presumably, from the other side of three-story Ottilia. What a gift, and what an inward smile I had.
It was such a simple event, but it took sitting still for it to happen. Had I been strolling right along, the blossoms would have likely gusted right past my gaze, completely unnoticed, and I would have missed the gift.
We have in our Retreat Center office a small rocker that we simply call the Time-Out Chair. It’s a place to sit a spell, to take a brief break, to slow down for a moment, to pause… For “real” breaks, we leave the office, of course. But just the presence of the Time-Out Chair, and the occasional presence of someone sitting in it, helps remind us of the need to slow down, pause, rest, listen, and open ourselves to the voice of God.
Every day is a good day to sit silently with our Lord, but today, the Feast of the Annunciation, is an especially good day to take an extra ‘time-out’ to simply be in God’s presence, watching, waiting, attending, beholding… and listening for the voice of God to settle in our hearts like springtime blossoms on a gust of wind.