This morning, for one reason and another, my retreat time was curtailed. I was late starting and had a lunch appointment which meant I'd be early finishing.
I felt anxious about my lack of time. Would there be enough for what I needed? Would I touch into that deep place of refreshment and simplicity?
Then I had a false start. I headed off to the Botanic Gardens, but when I got there it felt all 'wrong'. The carpark was full and the gardens seemed unusually busy and noisy. I hadn't brought my customary thermos, and I really felt like a coffee. I started walking towards the back of the gardens, but realised I didn't really want to be there. So I paused, and decided just to head home. I could get a cup of coffee and sit quietly in our courtyard. I could walk to lunch. I could relax.
As soon as I arrived home, I knew it was right to have come back. I stopped fretting about the supposed lack of time, and the time I had became enough. Because the necessary time is really just the time it takes to drop into stillness and quietness, the deeper current - and that can happen in an instant.
Sometimes it's true that you can only make that drop when you have a certain sense of spaciousness - a morning, a day, a retreat. But if you don't always have that, sometimes just an hour can be enough.
Here's our tea tree, coming into flower.
I thought of the hints we get from the gospel stories of Jesus taking time where he could. Sometimes we hear of a whole night in prayer. But other times, we glimpse him just taking a breather in someone's house, away from the crowds. Or a pause by a well, while the disciples go off for food - until a Samaritan woman comes along, that is.
How long is long enough? The spaces we need can't always be snatched, encroached upon, limited. But sometimes they will be - and that's just how it goes.
This week is Christmas week. I'm conscious that January will have a different rhythm. We'll be away for two weeks and then I'm in New Zealand leading a retreat. I may not manage much blogging in that time, but I hope for spaces of stillness and quietness in the midst of it all - for myself and for you too!
Here's one of our gallant clumps of seaside daisy, whose indomitable spirit always cheers and inspires me.
May we all be gifted with the perseverance and resilience we need to be bearers of hope in these troubled times.