Today, we may not be able fill our cars with camping gear and head for the trees when we feel overwhelmed, but we can with practice find that place of meeting within us.
I’ll never forget the time we were camping in a remote town in Sicily. We were needing some rest from our work in the Mennonite Churches there so we had packed the car and headed for the trees. This particular morning, my husband, Harry, had decided to purchase some cream-filled doughnuts for us to enjoy for breakfast. Our youngest son, only three at the time, didn’t want his so Harry ate that one too. It turns out that he became violently ill with some potent bacteria growing in the cream… a risk that you sometimes take dwelling in remote villages..
Anyway, I hurried away to get some help only to return finding Harry having convulsions on the bathroom floor.. We wound up in the emergency room of the nearest hospital… Harry now experiencing heart arrhythmia and lacking oxygen. A team of doctors swarmed around him as he shook violently; tips of ears, fingers and lips now black. After an hour or so, one of the doctors, puzzled by the gravity of Harry’s sudden illness asked me if I had any family to call… Harry wasn’t doing well.
There I stood, thousands of miles away from home with three small children. I had no one to call, really. And so, I instinctively closed my eyes and right there in the midst of panic, uncertainty, confusion and a poignant wave of homesickness, I somehow found myself in the comforting presence of God… not some miraculous vision or out of body experience, but a centeredness and a inner knowing that all would be well. I didn’t know if Harry would recover or not, but I became keenly aware of the presence of God and in one instant I knew that this presence stretched across all of the details of my life, including this one. That presence… seemed to soothe the churning of my soul with something similar to Jesus words that calmed the storm, “Peace, be still”
We may not always be able to pitch our tent under the great trees, but we can always tabernacle in the presence of God within us… the great place of meeting that lies within each of us.