“Even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow a rest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O Lord God….” (Psalm 84: 3)
A Word of Hope
I once saw a PBS show which featured an amazing journey undertaken by a loggerhead turtle. Leaving from Mexico, she spent over a year traveling 9000 miles, navigating the currents of the Pacific Ocean, evading the dangers of shark attacks, ocean tempests, and entrapment in fishing nets to return home to Japan to lay her eggs on the sandy shores she has not seen since her birth decades ago. According to author Kathleen Dean Moore, scientists know a lot about this homing instincts in animals: “Bees orient to polarized light. Salamanders steer by lines of geomagnetic force. Garter snakes follow scent. Pigeons use the position of the sun. Songbirds follow the stars. They are all drawn to a place proved to be safe by the hard, undeniable fact of their own existence.”
With the mobility and fragmentation in our society, all too often we feel like “poor wayfaring strangers” and long to return to a place where we are known and safe, loved just for who we are. Henry Nouwen asserts of this modern malaise that our “hearts are homeless” and that at its core this rootlessness and restlessness is a desire for God. In order to heal, we need not just a sporadic experience of worship—as glorious as that can be– but a deep, authentic intimacy with the One who created us, the One who continues to love us into being. Our prodigal hearts ache to return home.
St. Augustine’s words still capture it best: “Our hearts are restless until we rest in Thee.”
A deeply committed prayer practice is still one of the best paths to intimacy with the One who longs for union with us. Our personal petitions and intercessory requests on behalf of others are part of that, but the deep, open receptivity of contemplative prayer, centering prayer shape us at our very core.
May God’s Holy Light, God’s magnetic field guide us to our heart’s true home. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon