November. The clocks have changed, its colder, darker, generally grimmer, and its hard to stay on top of things at this time of year.
But you have to. Life carries on.
Over the years I’ve come up with a few strategies that help.
Journey with me to Iona and discover how you can find peace in all circumstances…
[This post was originally published on my ‘creation, life, adventure’ blog, 30/10/17 – no longer available]
Do you ever get an overwhelming need for space?
Only the other night in bed the fidgets started and I tossed and turned for ages. Lying there, restless, I realised it was a long time since I’d been properly outside – you know, wandering about enjoying the scenery and getting a good leg stretch. I felt trapped and vowed that whatever happened, whatever the weather, I would get my nature fix the next day and get out into a spacious place.
So I did. Meltdown prevented!
In this case all I had to do was wait until morning to get out, but what if that’s not possible? What if something is preventing you from going outside at all?
I’ve not been able to do so much outside recently so this got me thinking, ‘how am I dealing with it?’
I thought of the Bible verse:
“He brought me out into a spacious place.”
— PSALM 18:19A (NIV)
But what does this mean? What is God’s spacious place? Is it something I can find when I desire space and can’t get out?
In this post…
- How I’ve learned to find a spacious place wherever I am and reclaim peace
- How you can do this too, whatever your circumstances
God’s spacious place
Psalm 18 is wonderful. The psalmist conjures up an image of a landscape where God is magnified and safety or relief comes. There is refuge in God. And while I’ve certainly experienced relief by going outside, into the mountains especially, is it just the landscape that fuels my feelings or something else?
Psalm 121 says:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
— PSALM 121: 1-2 (NIV)
It would appear not.
And I can relate to this. Although the mountains are physically spacious, which is incredibly freeing, there is something more. The babbling noise and clutter in my mind begins to drift away on a mountain breeze and I begin to feel a deep connection with nature. Something stirs within my soul.
Could it be that God has moved in? Has He filled my mind? Is it He who has brought relief and created a spiritual spacious place?
My pilgrimage to Columba’s Bay, Iona
Recently I visited the Scottish Island of Iona, famed for its Celtic Christianity, and I had a wonderful pilgrimage experience confirming that God can indeed provide a spacious place.
Iona is beautiful in itself with its rugged landscapes and glittering golden sands. But the spiritual heritage of the place adds to the atmosphere. Columba’s Bay where the monk, St. Columba, landed in 563AD bringing Christianity to Scotland, is now revered as a sacred place. Perfect for a pilgrimage!
Yet when I set off on a shimmering September afternoon I didn’t know whether I’d make it all the way and was full of anxiety. Having been unable to walk far recently I needed God’s strength to help me.
And strengthen me He did!
I ambled across dunes and along the peaty path mindful of meeting Him through slowing down and noticing His creation. The wind blew and the waves crashed on the shore, the sparkling azure sea peppered with white-crested breakers smashed into jagged, ancient rocks. The heather felt like a cushion as I lay gazing at the wide open panorama spread before me, and as the sea spray hung in the air, it tickled my nose and tantalised my tastebuds.
While resting on the beach I felt part of the landscape and deeply connected with with my Creator as I reflected on Columba’s arrival so many years ago. I held a pebble in my hand which bridged the gap between people and nature. This ancient stone formed in the fires of creation witnessed Columba’s arrival just as it saw mine. This rock of ages united Creator and created.
I was at peace.
God definitely met me on my pilgrimage! He ‘carried’ me all the way and while engrossed in creation my anxious thoughts were able to float away, my fears melted and He filled my mind with His good thoughts. My mind became His spacious place.
Finding peace – a spacious place whenever you want it
But what if you can’t get to a physical spacious place? Do you need one in order to find peace?
No. You can use your past experiences to help God enter the spacious place of your mind whenever you want!
Here’s how I take myself back to Iona…
At Columba’s Bay I collected some pebbles which now sit on my shelf. They’re a daily reminder of my pilgrimage and just holding one transports me right back to the ‘peace of Iona’.
But if you can’t get out or haven’t been able to for a while, get someone to bring you some natural items. Perhaps a leaf will whisk you to an ancient woodland where God whispers through the trees. Or a conker may remind you of collecting them as a child – who can resist picking up one of these shiny delights on a crisp autumn day? Beautiful photographs and music can help too.
How are you going to find a spacious place this week?