Photo by Erin Wilson on Unsplash
A couple of weeks ago I was on a personal retreat, and during a particular prayer session, the speaker wanted me and my fellow retreatants to imagine ourselves in a garden walking with Jesus. A beautiful meditation followed, and we were asked to just place ourselves in the story.
I’m all for imaginative meditations, but for the life of me, I could not picture a single thing. My mind was completely blank. This had happened a little earlier and I didn’t think anything of it, but now we were about to start Adoration and I so desperately wanted to have a “good” Adoration experience. I tried forcing myself to think of anything, picture anything … but alas, nothing came. Out of my frustration, I journaled, “Fine, Jesus… I have nothing to give you, so I’ll just sit here and adore.”
Oh, what a beautiful, simple prayer.
As soon as I had thought that, the worship leader sang the phrase, “I’ll just sit here, I’ll just adore you.” Naturally, I was filled with peace and joy and lightness that I had not experienced in a while.
You see, friends, I think we get bombarded and caught up with having the perfect prayer experience where we know exactly what to pray, how to pray, when to pray, etc. For me, I wanted to create my own experience of how I thought God should have moved in my life that night. While I was gripping the reins so tightly, forcing myself to control my prayer time, I had forgotten that more often than not, the Lord just wants to sit with me. God just wants to be with me.
I think about the time of Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall. It says in Genesis that they walked with God in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). Think about that. Adam and Eve walked around a paradise freely with God and without shame.
There was no sin: no jealousy, no pride, no anger, no lust, no deceptiveness — only freedom. Freedom to be who they were created to be: in relationship with God. How often is the Lord inviting me into that same garden. He is constantly inviting me to walk with Him in the cool of the day. I don’t have to bring a bunch of books or things to occupy my time. I don’t have to busy myself to make it feel as if I have an intimate relationship with the Lord. I can just sit and adore in thanksgiving and praise.
In the hurried moments of my life, God is still inviting me to take a step back, breathe deeply, and return to the garden; just to converse with Him as I would my greatest friend. Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, take a deep breath. You’re doing better than you think you are. For practicality’s sake, take some time this week to just sit back and return to the garden. Read the creation story (Genesis 1:1-2:4) and then Psalm 19:1-7. Picture the majesty of what God has created, and then imagine you are an integral part of that creation.
It’s time to return to the garden and cultivate a life marked by the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You are not too far gone from His gaze. Jesus is still inviting you into a personal relationship with Him and He is inviting you to a deeper love and appreciation for the sacraments, the tangible grace needed for this journey. You are so loved, friend. Know of my prayers for you on this journey!
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Ali Hoffman is co-coordinator of youth ministry at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Carrollton.
A couple of weeks ago I was on a personal retreat, and during a particular prayer session, the speaker wanted me and my fellow retreatants to imagine ourselves in a garden walking with Jesus.