Several weeks ago, I spent a wonderful half-hour lying by the Manchester reservoir in Attleboro, Massachusetts, watching the sunset. It was completely tranquil. No wind blew a wave against the shore. Birds, one by one, or in flocks, lifted from the water and soared into the air. A quiet farmhouse away to the left had one light on that stood out warmer and more aglow as the sky's light faded. It was spring-warm in late autumn. It was a haven of peace. Perhaps it's no surprise that I experienced a communion - quiet prayer, naturally feeling God's presence with me and with everyone, everywhere. I felt I was in a sanctuary - a beautiful, natural, sanctuary.
What may come as more of a surprise is that a friend recently experienced a similar feeling - in an airport.
Increased security has added many hours of airport time to travelers. Yet, the patience of airline passengers in the face of these needed delays has been a marvel. Instead of merely putting up with delays, though - especially around holiday time - is it possible to use this time constructively? My friend's experience shows that it is. Listening for God's thoughts, as she did, is always time well spent, wherever we are.
At one point, my friend had considered canceling her trip because she dreaded the long airport wait. But as departure time approached, she realized she could think of all the imposed airport time from a more positive standpoint. She could look on it with anticipation based on making a commitment to spend the time in communion with God. And that's what she did. She took copies of the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, and magazines based on the ideas in those books that offer insights into prayer. She found a (relatively) quiet spot and read and prayed. She so enjoyed what became a precious time of communion with God. She felt she'd had an appointment with God, and she was thrilled to keep it. Her time of communion, she said, brought her peace about some issues on her mind that had been troubling her.
Most of us can appreciate the need for that kind of spiritual peace when we fly today. Even if we have no private issues of concern on our minds, there are plenty of issues of public concern to deal with. So translating times of "delay" into moments to pray makes a lot of sense. Even if the airport isn't the first choice of venue in which to seek sanctuary, we can let it become one. God will be there, because God is everywhere. And God is always conveying good, spiritual thoughts to us, which we can perceive as we open our hearts to them. While it may be helpful to have inspirational literature, this isn't crucial. God's thoughts - angels - come to view in thought when we still our human self-consciousness through prayer, and gain a sense of our own, and everyone's, true nature as God's loved children.
Opening our thoughts to God can reveal any place to be a holy sanctuary. Mary Baker Eddy says of Jesus' disciples: "When he was with them, a fishing-boat became a sanctuary, and the solitude was peopled with holy messages from the All-Father. The grove became his class-room, and nature's haunts were the Messiah's university" ("Retrospection and Introspection," pg. 91).
Today, any solitude can seem hard to find. But wherever we are, even in a crowded airport, we can find that space "peopled with holy messages" as were the quieter groves and nature's haunts where Jesus preached. Our prayer can be for God to open our hearts to hearing those messages like Jesus did.
"There is no wasted time while listening for God's thoughts," my friend said after her experience of excess airport hours. If all the extra airport hours are used as wisely, traveling will be a richly holy experience.
Acquaint now thyself with
him, and be at peace:
thereby good shall
come unto thee.