Since I’m weary today with mild illness, it just feels right to push pause. I hope a pause is okay with you too. I try to hold loosely the term “interiors” to allow the focus of Hello Lovely to extend to inner landscapes within us. So we’ll revisit reflections about dwelling places today with their mystical whispery wonder. After all, it’s not every day heaven’s glory breaks through the ordinary. The images here were snapped a few days back on a tour with my son of gardens near my home.
(If these reflections sound familiar it’s because I shared them earlier, and we’re visiting them).
Sometimes Heaven Breaks Through Ordinary Moments
About a week ago, on a most ordinary morning, an extraordinary uplifting communion occurred, turning the skies of my soul a tranquil blue.
(If you have a moment, please watch this video I made with moments in the garden – it’s less than 2 minutes and viewing it is a great way to support this blog!)
Since it’s so fresh, I don’t even know what to call it. It feels like consolation.
In case you were wondering, consolation, supernatural goodness and light beaming from divine realms into earthly ones is not the norm over here.
It was a morning like all others. Sort of. I’m disciplined about starting my day in solitude and silence. I open one or two daily meditations in my email from spiritual writers I respect who share wisdom, scripture, and sweetness. Then I sit for centering prayer, which is mostly pleasant but can also be super boring and challenging when there’s a long list of chores ahead.
Anyway, on this day before the meditations, I read a blog post about flying the nest. It was lovely and poignant.
Then I turned to the first meditation, and its theme centered on how we are God’s dwelling place. My heart quickly softened as I considered how the spaciousness within me is a shelter, a home. You already know my passion for home.
Henri Nouwen’s thoughtfulness stirred me:
“You are the place where God chose to dwell…and the spiritual life is nothing more or less than to allow that space to exist where God can dwell, to create the space where his glory can manifest itself.”
As I contemplated the beauty of this dwelling place, I closed my eyes, crossed my hands over my heart and sort of disappeared into a blissful silent atmosphere.
Before long, a song about dwellings bubbled up into consciousness. It was the first classical song I performed for a high school recital called “How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings” by Samuel Liddle. Maybe you know it. The lyrics are taken from Psalm 84.
While I had not thought of the song or psalm in many years, its notes and lyrics were anchored securely in the synapses or soul, and I began to sing it reverently with my eyes closed.
“How lovely are thy dwellings, oh Lord of hosts. My soul longeth, yea fainteth for the courts of the Lord…Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young.”
A few phrases into the song, I heard a thumping. Since I assumed I was alone in the house. I wondered whether my husband or son had returned. I paused, briefly embarrassed but heard nothing further and resumed the song.
More thumping came.
Bear in mind, your friend was in a very relaxed, contemplative state while sitting in bed in pajamas, eyes shut. My thoughts turned to the wildlife in our yard as I wondered ‘maybe my chubby squirrel is busy on the roof again.’
It wasn’t until the third thump that I turned my eyes toward our bedroom window and saw her.
A robin on the sill was tapping the pane. I met her gaze and resumed the song, never imagining she would stay.
But stay she did.
Oh lord God of hosts, my heart soared! Naturally, I kept singing.
After about a minute, she flew a few feet north to a roof overhang very near the window.
She lingered as the breeze ruffled her feathers, the loveliness of Psalm 84 reached her, and salty sanctifying tears slipped down my cheeks.
For two minutes, we were united…with only a windowpane and a few feet between our beating hearts.
Nothing like this has happened before, but then again, I don’t ever sing in bed. For starters, it isn’t easy to sing well in that position!
Yet she was as captive and engaged an audience as I have encountered. Despite my movement, she didn’t fly away. (Caught up in wonder and awe, I couldn’t resist capturing a minute of the communion with my iPhone.)
My heart overflowing, I retreated to the kitchen for breakfast, but eating while weeping has never really worked for me. So I opened up the next meditation in my email, and the first sentence began with a quote from Julian of Norwich:
“Greatly ought we to rejoice that God dwells in our soul; and more greatly ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is created to be God’s dwelling place, and the dwelling of our soul is God.” (Showings)
A late 14th century spiritual writer, Julian’s words further reinforced the idea that our souls are sacred dwelling places.
The messages in my world and the universe seemed to be underscoring the notion that this dwelling place with its glory is a sacred treasure which can never be harmed and can be implicitly trusted.
The robin’s flight to me, right where I am, feels more healing and comforting than I can say.
There’s a dramatic bridge in the song where verse 10 of the psalm reads ‘For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand.’
A day in Thy courts. Yes. Such a day is drenched in beauty. A day when a long buried gift of song can resurrect and echo through a forest!
A day when a stone can somehow be rolled away, when the veil thins.
A day when heaven and nature harmonize and synchronize so the sound reverberates as one.
A day in Thy courts. Two minutes in the Presence where Perfect Peace and Perfect Love are invited to dwell. Where relationship blooms. Where holy consolation and sacred notes arrive like manna.
I finished reading the second meditation which ended with these words from Father Richard Rohr:
“The inner radiance of God started radiating at least 13.8 billion years ago. We must realize that we are the continuation of that radiance in our small segment of time on Earth…Use whatever words you want, but with this vision you will live in a fully alive and congenial universe where you can never be lonely again. ”
I added the bold to the last sentence because it’s how I experienced the words on my screen. YOU CAN NEVER BE LONELY AGAIN wrapped my soul in the the warmest embrace.
Oh, friends. I’m undone with sweetness. Because for me…well, for me these reassuring words seal this mysterious consolation with an everlasting promise.
Desolation always comes. I still have assorted wounds I mostly keep in the darkness. Shadowy places in my soul which have the potential to take root and cause harm when they aren’t absorbed into the light of Pure Love.
But what an earthquake when Grace meets you unexpectedly in the garden of your heart, right where you are. To be found by such Grace is to discover there is nothing to fear.
To be caught in its flow is to see the miracle of the ordinary, the miracle of flight, the miracle of dwelling places, the miracle of a small bird lifting a singing soul to heaven.
How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings
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Contemplative Daily Meditations That Enrich My Journey
Inspiring Books by Contemplatives
Psalm 84: 1-12
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.
It is always difficult to click ‘publish’ on posts like these since they are so vulnerable. Sometimes I’ll share spiritual reflections and then will hear from folks longing to ‘be in the flow’ or from someone who feels as if they are somehow locked out of a layer of aliveness. I want to reiterate that I don’t know much of anything. I am not special or accustomed to clouds parting and angels singing. But I can sense the difference between being IN the flow and outside of it. And I am almost always OUTSIDE. So if you may be thinking ‘child, I need me some consolation up in here,’ I hear you. But that’s not why I meditate and study contemplative Christianity. It is a mystery even to me as to why I keep studying! I say this because the work is so deeply humiliating at times and mostly a lonely road. My desire is ever TO SEE AS LOVE SEES and to keep getting out of the way as much as possible. Thanks for reading me with such tenderness.
To read more personal reflections, click here.
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Peace to you right where you are.
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