Jan Thompson of Ilkley, Queensland, Australia
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:28-31
We didn’t attend Tiona reunion when I was young, but one year I found myself there for a day or two. I was primary-school age. My memories are very blurry, but my mother was involved, and I remember the creation of a decorated tray to take to the women’s afternoon tea at the old mission tent. Did I stay or did I present it (along with all the others) and leave? I don’t remember.
But I do remember the palm nuts, little round seeds that fall from the palms and disappear into the sand around the base of Tiona’s iconic cabbage tree palms. Decades later I found a handful of slightly sandy little palm nuts rattling around in the hidden pocket of my guitar case, standing out against the plush golden lining under the spare strings and picks. How did they get there? I don’t really know.
I had two little children at the time. Since then, we have spent a lot of time sitting on the ground singing songs and experiencing the blessings of community in this treasured place, Tiona.
The funny thing is, having found them, I left them there…for years. I’m sure it wasn’t a conscious choice. But I think in hindsight those little palm nuts had become touchstones for times of spiritual awakening and connection in a place of deep spiritual resonance for me. Tiona is an exquisite natural environment with miles of ocean, sand hills, a rocky headland, palm groves, a shimmering lake, and picturesque sunsets over the distant mountain range. But it’s the sense of grounding symbolized by the blackish sand and palm nuts that resonates with me the most.
My hands and feet have known the presence of these small, sandy nuts in this amazing environment. My heart and my soul have known spiritual connection. The two are indelibly intertwined.
Peace, be still (Mark 4:39).
In the contemplative tradition, silent prayer is about cultivating a quality of inner stillness. You may visualize the story of Jesus calming the storm as a way of entering into this quality of prayer. Notice how churned up the waters of your soul are currently. As you breathe deeply, imagine a sacred stillness forming within you. What might it look like to engage all your relationships and daily tasks from this place of inner stillness? As you move through your day, notice when you feel stirred up and when you experience inner calm. Take note of patterns and themes. Invite all of your noticing into prayer as you continue to grow deeper in God as the source of your life and action.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.