This morning I woke up in my little log cabin in Maine in plenty of time for the quick flight home. The place was clean and tidy, all ready to receive us on our return in a few weeks. I had gone to bed hoping to wake up early enough for my traditional hike and prayer time, but this morning the lake called me first. The one thing I still needed to do was to bring my rowboat out of the water and place it face down on the dock so it would not fill with rain and falling leaves while I was gone. Standing on the dock I looked around and was immediately struck by the beauty of my surroundings and I wanted to stay there. It was so early that a foggy mist hovered over the entire lake which was particularly still and glassy. This morning the lake reflected the soft grayish white sky.
I rushed back into the cabin to grab my oars, my Bible, eyeglasses, and a towel to sit on. When I retuned to the dock I knew that I had to seize the moment because lake conditions change fast. Instead of sitting on the dock and reading first, I descended into the rowboat and hooked up the oars to set out to sea. Me and my boat were the only ones on the lake that early, unless you want me to count the loon or two that surfaced a little later.
I rowed out and stopped to enjoy the view of the hemlock trees and mountains surrounding us. On my lake there are no houses in sight from the center, only trees and mountains. The view was peaceful and beautiful, perfect for praying. I soon thought instead of facing west I should face east to where God and the sun come from lest I have my back to Them. On this morning unless I already knew where east was, it would have been hard to tell as the sky was so thick with clouds. Staring, I finally saw a slightly brighter area in the sky that revealed the rising sun, so even though the view in that direction, closer to shore and without mountains was less beautiful, it was in that direction I said my prayers.
First phase, glorify God, then thank Him.
As I recited my prayers my mind wandered to what I was doing. I was speaking to an invisible God. I was telling Him how much I love Him and thanking Him for all of the gifts I could called to my mind at that moment. In the undercurrent of my prayer I thought about how strange it seemed that I was talking to the air. I couldn't see Him.
Since my trip to the Holy Land several months ago, and especially after having just finished James Martin, SJ's book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage, about his trip Holy Land which evoked so many shared memories, I have become aware of the humanity of Jesus more than ever before in my Christian life. I was so used to worshipping an invisible, divine Jesus, that confronting the reality of His humanity seemed at first foreign and inappropriate until I adjusted my perception of the dual nature of God as never before.
But, here I was shifting back again to worshipping a purely invisible divine God and now that seemed strange out there in the middle of my lake all alone on a foggy still morning.
'But He is not altogether invisible,' I argued with myself. I see Him with my heart in the effects of His magnificent being. Hearing myself list all that I was grateful for, most especially as I sat in the boat where two weeks to the day earlier I rescued my young grandchildren from their capsized canoe, I was particularly grateful for all that God did to prevent what easily could have been a traumatic disaster. Thank God that my lake did not swallow the young lives of my beloved babies.
It is not often possible to sense the presence of an invisible living God. So, I need to set aside my senses and look at the obvious effects of His Being. Then, I know for certain, that Someone is there listening to my prayers, and wishing I would stop allowing my mind to wander.
Of course this is not new. In fact it is very very old, but today for me it was expressed in what felt like a two way conversation between the invisible God and me. 'I can't see You, but I know you are there.'