Precious Moments

Koln Cathedral 1No, not the small Precious Moments© figurines that gather dust on shelves—at least on mine. The ones I’m talking about require no human trademark (God has put His own special imprint on them) and rest only in my heart and mind.

These aren’t the moments usually thought of when speaking of memories: not the birth of a child, family reunions or even a time when God intervened in some special way. These are the times—usually only moments—when into the mind and heart came an unexpected, special “awareness” of God’s presence. Maybe no deep spiritual truth was revealed, but in that moment you and God were together in an indescribable way.

Recently I took time to sit quietly—no books, no journal, no Bible—asking God to help me bring a few of those precious moments to the surface of my mind:

Walking on freshly fallen snow on the way to the school bus stop, the only sounds birds singing their morning song in the woods and the crunch as my feet made a new path. Even in my yet-spiritually-unformed heart, I somehow sensed God…
 
Sitting on a metal chair in the near empty Moby Gym at Colorado State University when I cried out, “I want to REALLY know you…” 
 
On a back pew in Maria Laach Abbey chapel when the monks soundlessly walked into the choir stalls to sing their mid-afternoon chants of praise…
 
Sitting on a stump in a Texas field where the quiet enveloped and refreshed…
 
Walking through Austrian forests with snow blanketing the pine branches…
 
Late afternoon walks along the Rhine with the golden blush of a setting sun…
 
Rain sliding down a city windowpane as I waited for a friend…
Listening for the wind’s whisper through the pines in the Great Tetons…
 
Stepping up out of the dark parking garage to see the Köln cathedral ablaze with light…

These are moments we rarely talk about with friends. They are deep within our souls, moments perhaps best described by the psalmist’s words, when “deep calls to deep…”

So how and when do these moments occur? How can I be better prepared to receive them? C.S. Lewis saw that “the world is crowded with [God]. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.”*

In The Attentive Life, Leighton Ford suggests several ways for what I call “preparing the way” for God to present Himself to us:

          Be fully present in the moment…
          Look long enough…
          Look freshly (with ‘new’ eyes!) at what is familiar…
Be available…
Wait with expectancy…
Be mindful…

As I review these suggestions from Ford (he has several more), I see that all require the discipline of time and quiet. No filling the space with words or action. Just being. When was the last time you created the space for a precious moment? You really don’t want to miss it!

*Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer

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