Today is Thanksgiving Day. Richard and I are on our traditional Thanksgiving week vacation. We own a small time share in Orlando and it has become our custom to take the Thanksgiving week and enjoy a break away from all the chaos that leads up to the Holiday Season.
It’s a pretty standard time share condo: a lounge/dining area with a small compact half kitchen, a decent size bathroom with a shower in the tub which has some whirlpool jets, and a bedroom with a nice comfortable king-size bed and the prerequisite double closet and chest of drawers. There are two TV’s and a boom box and all the necessary accoutrements for cooking, cleaning, and ironing. The furnishings are nice with small touches of tasteful décor, but nothing extravagant.
However, there is one item of pure luxury as far as I am concerned. We have a large screened-in balcony that accommodates a table and four chairs and there’s still plenty of room to move around. This is my “lanai away from home” and where I spend the vast majority of whatever time we do not spend running out and about. Over the past few days I have sat out here and written about one hundred and forty Christmas cards, remembering friends far and near as I always do at this time of the year.
This is where I come first thing in the morning to have my quiet time with God and do my reflection readings and pray and meditate. This is my small sanctuary where I find safe haven where I can reaffirm or reclaim my inner peace and gratitude for all my blessings. I also bring my laptop out here to do my writing, as I am doing at this very moment. I feel like this is a special gift from God to me.
As I sit here on the lanai I look out over a small artificial lake with a fountain set in the middle. The lake is surrounded by other condo buildings but they are spaced out enough that we are not crowded. There is lush green grass everywhere dotted with flowering trees and shrubs, and pathways offer the opportunity to walk or jog everywhere.
Today is a glorious sparkling blue day – a Princess Di kind of day. The sun is shining brilliantly and shimmers on the water in the lake. There are a few white clouds softly smeared across the sky and the temperature is warm and inviting. I’m thinking about going for a walk and a swim. There is a balmy breeze blowing and the palm fronds wave lazily as it moves through. The smaller leaves on other trees are fluttering like myriads of green butterflies and everything seems to be in gentle motion. Along the banks of the lake a small blue heron is gracefully and stealthily stalking a prey that only he can see.
I sit here and feel the sun warming me to the very depths of my bones and I am so very grateful for all of this, that is so much more than my basic needs. I am grateful for food on my table and a roof over my head. I am grateful for fresh-smelling soap to wash myself with. I am grateful for a closetful of clothes (mainly purple!!) that I can chose from. I am grateful for a loving, kind, patient husband (he needs to be patient with this purple creature he has married!).
I am grateful for the whole of my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yes, there are some bad and ugly parts to my life and yes, I am grateful for them too. They serve as humble reminders that I still have more work to do to improve. I am grateful that today I can recognize, admit and accept that I am not perfect and that there is room for growth. Amen!!!
Much as I loved and enjoyed my trip to San Antonio, I am so grateful to be back in the spiritual sanctuary that is my garden. I try very hard to keep my small personal routine on schedule when I travel but it is never quite the same. Perhaps if I had lots of money and could stay in the kind of places where I could be guaranteed a quiet terrace, garden, or patio where I would not be disturbed by anyone or anything except God’s incredible creation, then it might be a little different.
The joy of sitting in my lanai fairly early in the morning, surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies, cardinals, titmice, and mourning doves, as well as the flowers that bloom in my garden and the pine woods out back, is indescribable. The quiet and the beauty restore my soul and fill my heart with happiness.
In my solitude here each morning there is a peacefulness that fills my whole being, a tranquility that I am blessed with, that allows me the perfect start to each day. My meditation books are there within easy reach and I am called to a place of quiet communion with my Creator that sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Here I can bare my soul to the One who loves me always, no matter what. Here I can tell Him my concerns, share my joys with Him, and make any specific requests that I may have. I read recently that, “Faith functions in connection with prayer and persistence. Persistence cultivates the belief that prayer will be answered. A person with a persistent spirit will be blessed.” (The Power of Prayer by E.M. Bounds)
And so I continue in my prayers for special causes that I have, for the many people who have asked me to pray for them, and for all those who have no one to pray for them. And in my praying I am drawn closer to my God. In my praying I go deeper on my spiritual path. And in my praying for others I am released of the bondage of self-importance and of self-centeredness.
I am immensely grateful for my sanctuary. For my special place where I can retreat from the chaos of the outside world. For the quiet that offers me the time to recharge and regenerate to face whatever challenges the day may bring. For the time each day that I am blessed with to nurture my soul. Amen!!