Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to go and visit a retreat center outside Asheville. Peaceful Quest Retreat is found just off a winding mountain road. The temptation to pass it without notice is enhanced by this weaving road. It is a beautiful ride–the type that lures you into thinking that you, your car and the mountain are all one. It is important to concentrate as the road twists and turns, finding beauty around every bend. With reluctance, I have to admit that without my GPS I would have very likely passed its entrance. After arriving I was taken with its quiet beauty. The owners of Peaceful Quest Retreats, Bobbie and Millie, have tenderly created an environment where nature feeds the soul. Even though my visit was short, I left with a sense of renewal – a feeling that has remained throughout the week.
It was a ‘wayside sacrament’. Sacraments are actions/practices that reconnect us to that which is holy. As a priest, I have spent much time preparing to share sacraments. These outward acts intended to stir the spirit within are rich with symbolism and tradition.
Driving away from Peaceful Quest, I was reminded that blessing is everywhere. I had discovered a ‘wayside sacrament’. Grateful for the continual work to create these environments throughout this retreat center, I saw this holy space and then the road ahead. It was not necessary for me to physically go down that road in hopes to discover what was around its turn. No–the road ahead became a metaphor, a symbol of life laid out before me. In a moment of grace I sensed the excitement of an adventure and took in a deep breath of gratitude. It was a moment of renewal and comfort.
Taking this type of time is important. It does not have to be full days or even half days, just take time– time to discover sacred beauty around you. Look for it, seek it out– be blessed with moments of re-creation, moments of grace.