In strange and wonderful ways God reveals to us what we need to learn. Recently I have been attending a new church. In order to feel more at home I went on a women’s retreat not six weeks after I started attending the church. I figure that at my age I don’t have the year or so it takes to feel a part of things, to get to know a number of people in the church. So with some reluctance to diving into a group of 30 women—I had met two of them– I went off to short-cut the getting-acquainted process.
The Lord in the meantime had other plans as he often does, different from my own. The theme of the retreat was music, led by the choir director. Before the retreat we were to submit the title of a song that had special meaning for us. So, after considering the many songs that I love, I decided to send in my theme song from the YouTube videos I’ve posted—“Great is thy faithfulness.” By midway through Friday night I am feeling very comfortable with the women after singing together, hearing each women’s story about why she chose her song and sharing mine. Saturday for me was more about talking individually with a number of women there, but also thinking about music and singing together. And I did several art projects with the materials provided.
My mission was accomplished; I left the retreat feeling very comfortable with that group of women, and by extension with the church. The Lord’s mission for me was also completed: I was totally reminded of how much I was missing music and art in my life, of how much they feed me, keep me positive and on track with him. The last two years in particular those two things have pretty much disappeared from my life(I’ve written before about my three moves and how they affected me).
But music has been on a down-hill slide in my life in the fourteen years since my husband’s, Hank’s, death. Except for the Requiems—Brahms, Rutter and Faure—that I listened to in the intense grieving years(the first two), I have really not listened to much music at all. After all he was a musician and when he was around, there was always music in our lives. Early in our marriage, he practiced Bach every night while I cooked dinner. Then he was playing jazz or classical albums. I learned everything I know about music from Hank in the 37 years we were together. It was a real education. But I was in the habit of depending on him to play music for me.
At the retreat I was reminded of many ways music influenced me. The first signal that I knew I was angry at Hank was singing in my mind, “I’m goin’ to wash that man right out of my hair!” The Requiem masses that I loved and that helped me move through the grief. The a capella singing group, the Mendicants, that he founded, directed and arranged music for. We went to many of their concerts over the years. The classical music that I love. And the jazz. The rock. Memories just flowed during the retreat.
What feeds your soul? Do you make sure you get these meals of Spirit-infusion as well as what your body needs? Or are you like me—sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Do listen for what God is saying about these things in your life or have you already made up your mind? It’s not just our bodies that need to be fed and exercised—our souls and hearts and minds do, too.
Another reminder from the Lord came about another inspirational need of mine two weeks after the retreat. I was up at Lake James with a friend for the weekend. We were outside in the Carolina Mountains. We walked. We drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was starved for being outside. I need the natural beauty; my eyes crave beauty. I need the fresh air, the vistas. There were trees leafing out in the mountains, several weeks later than in Charlotte. It was an amazingly beautiful landscape. And I was outdoors in it.
So that’s the third element that feeds me—art, music and the outdoors. So here is how I am with these things today. I am working on finding a rhythm with all of them that would meet my needs. I need these Spirit-filled things to keep me positive and on track with the Lord in my life. I was going back to my regular way of tackling issues in my life—intensity and attack, but it was pretty clear to me that God was saying that I needed a different motivation or way of doing them. What I heard was this: think of them, along with exercise and eating well, as ways of keeping me, body, mind and spirit, in the best shape to serve the Lord. So I am listening extra hard to hear how they might be in my life.
Maybe you think that it is not important to care for your body and soul, that all you need to do is to read the Bible daily. But I would like to remind us all that the better we take care of our physical and mental and soul needs, the better able to serve God we will be. We would then be serving God out of the fullness of who we are, not with denying ourselves which drains off our best energies.
Of course, what I have written about is just my latest experience. I think there are myriads of ways God reminds us of what we need to know.
Would you feel comfortable sharing your experience of keeping your spirit and soul fed in the comments? Or how it is you experience God’s calls? If so, please know that I might use what you write later in my writings, but I would only identify you by your initials. It is so rich when my readers share, so inspiring to us all. And thank you in advance.
Questions to ponder over the week: How well do I care for my body and mind, soul and spirit? Do I think it is selfish? Or self-love? What is missing in my life that I would love to incorporate? Is it also something I could praise God with?
Blessing for the week: May we take good care of our bodies, our souls, minds and spirits. May we bring our best energies to our relationship with God. May we open up all areas of our lives to the Holy Spirit for healing. May we be whole. In faith and love, Pat
If you’d like to see more of By the Waters, check these out:
–There’s a new video up on YouTube: “A description of the kingdom of God” ”youtube.com/user/patsadams
–Check out my twitter feed at twitter.com/BTWwithPatAdams
–Check out the “Shop Now” at the top of this page which links to a CD of guided meditations and a series of booklets on the Life of the Spirit.