Amidst the hectic pace of life, Jackie Wise finds a sweet spot.
It’s a busy Saturday morning in Auckland and although it’s only 9.15am, already people have begun their rushed round of shopping, sport, housework, tasks, lists and general hurry...but me? I’m off to spend the morning in an oasis of peace where I can let everything fall away and just be close to God. It’s our two-monthly ‘Quiet Morning at the Friary’ – the St Francis Retreat Centre in Hillsborough.
As we drive up through the trees there’s a special sense of anticipation. We are welcomed by Betty, who leads our quiet mornings, and we go into this place where prayer has been the focus over many years.
God’s presence is almost tangible here. In the Chapel we have our first short service together, and then we are free to spend the next two hours on our own. We each find our own nook where we can pray and think and listen.
There are many quiet spaces here, both inside and out in the beautiful grounds or in the park next door. We take with us suggestions for prayer and are free to use these or not. There is such peace, stillness, silence – and as I rest there with God, I am aware of him with me, speaking into my heart.
Today, I have something weighing on my heart, a grief that needs to be shared again with the Lord, because a special friend of many years is dying. It amazes me, as it so often does here, that the readings, prayers and devotional input all speak to my need in some way, building up a fuller picture of where God is in this situation and how I can trust him with it.
Midway through the morning I decide go to Betty’s room and ask her to pray for my friend and for me. It’s good to share my feelings with someone else and to be wrapped in acceptance and love as she prays. And for those of us who want to, there is time in our final service together to talk about what God has been saying to us during the morning, and again we feel accepted and cared about by the other people here. Those of us who come often to these mornings have come to feel like family as we have shared these special times together.
As I leave, I feel less burdened and fragmented, still grieving but more complete and able to go forward, and I thank God for his closeness, his touch and this beautiful place.