Acadia National Park, beauty, hear it use it, hiking, imperfect prose, Joel Malm, lobster, Maine, Margaret Feinberg, playdates, Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, Summit Leaders, Tell His Story, The Sacred Echo, Wonderstruck, worry
Maine’s rugged granite coastline called out to each of us, summoning us to kick over its trails and drink in its beauty. Each participant had responded to the call for reasons of his or her own. Some had never before traveled to New England. Others had been preparing physically for the challenge of an eight-mile hike.
We were also promised there would be lobster.
Eighteen of us gathered in Bar Harbor, Maine, for a weekend of hiking, teaching, discovery, laughter and play in Acadia National Park—an outdoor experience organized by Joël Malm of Summit Leaders. My reasons for participating were many. When our kids were young, my husband and I had dragged them up, down, over and through many of the park’s trails. I was excited for the opportunity to meet and talk with Margaret in a place which was familiar to me and within driving distance. I hoped that, as a grandmother, I would still be able to tackle eight miles’ worth of steep switchbacks and rugged ascents.
On our first evening together, Joël sent each of us off to find a quiet place to sit before God and ask, “Lord, what do you have for me this weekend?”
I walked out of the house in which we were meeting, down a Bar Harbor street, and immediately the words Breathe peace came to mind. I can’t tell you if it was the voice of God, and I can’t tell you it wasn’t. In my particular faith community, we don’t often hear the audible voice of God, and we tend to keep it to ourselves if we do. I do know I was breathing in salt air, and for me that’s pretty much the same thing as breathing peace. So maybe that was just my imagination.
I had come to Maine in search of peace, seeking respite from worry about my son and his future. As the mother of a musician, I can tell you I have gained a much deeper appreciation for the phrase, “Marches to the beat of his own drum.” I know God is at work in my son’s life and doing good things. The shape of his future, however, remains clouded in uncertainty.
And I can handle just about anything except uncertainty.
As I walked the streets of Bar Harbor I found myself wandering toward a nearby church–one whose doors were open, inviting visitors inside for reflection and prayer. I slipped into a pew and noticed a book in the rack in front of me and thought, perhaps, these words were the answer to my question:
Maybe this weekend was intended simply to be a gift of time to dwell in wonder, love and praise. As I was considering that possibility my eyes wandered to the stained glass window to the right of the pew in which I was seated, one I thought I had chosen at random:
These words, so artfully framed in glass and lead, I knew to be the voice of my Father—a Father who knows a thing or two about having a Son, One whom He loves. And my Father loves me.
And my Father loves my son.
This Son, Margaret reminded us in one of our sessions, was taken by His Father from the glories of heaven. He was blessed by His Father, using the very words on the window to my right. And He is Living Bread, broken and given for the healing and redemption of all who are willing to feed on Him.
“Hear Him; feed on Him,” I heard my Father say. “And trust me to love your son. I know how to love—costly, extravagant love.”
After praying and listening, and not knowing what else to do with myself, I got up and walked around the church. I stopped to gaze upon more stained glass windows, read memorial plaques, and admire architectural detail. Tucked into a dark corner behind the communion rail, I was surprised to find this:
After a weekend filled with hiking and laughter, wild blueberries and fresh lobster, I returned to this church for Sunday morning worship. The service was formal and liturgical, and the drums remained hidden away in their dark recesses.
The morning’s liturgy celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration, the occasion on which the disciples on a mountaintop were offered a glimpse of the glory of the One who came veiled in flesh—taken, blessed, broken, and given by his Father. Our readings, familiar passages, came from the Gospel of Luke and the Epistle of Second Peter:
. . . This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!
. . . This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.
These words formed neither a new nor unfamiliar call but they repeated throughout the weekend, washing over me again and again as surely as ocean waves thunder against Maine’s rocky coastline:
Listen . . . listen to Him. My Son . . . My beloved Son. Listen . . . listen.
I’ve often said God seems to need to repeat himself to me because I’m either too dense to understand or am simply not paying attention. Margaret has a kinder, gentler description for these conversations. She calls them Sacred Echoes.
I traveled to Maine eager to revisit a familiar place, eat good food, share experiences with new friends, and hug Margaret Feinberg around the neck. I came home having done all these things. I also came home having breathed peace; dwelt in wonder, love, and praise; and having heard the voice of my Father.
Joining dear friends in all these lovely communities: