A strange thing happens to me when I take time out in the day to spend time with God.
I feel more connected – oddly, spending this time alone always reminds me, when I emerge into the ‘real world’, that I’m connected to every person I meet, in some strange, indefinable way. It gives me a sense of compassion and unity – I’m a bit gentler, a bit more forgiving. Perhaps some people don’t need to set aside time in their day like this in order to feel this compassionate fellow-feeling, but I do (especially when I’m about to get on the London Underground).
I feel connected too, through this sort of vast spiritual web, to people I know who are existing hundreds or even thousands of miles away from me. Today, a friend suddenly came to my mind when I was walking past a park where I had walked with her before – I had a sense that she was feeling discouraged about a particular part of her life, and sent a quick text message, saying that I was thinking of her and telling her not give up.
A message quickly came back, saying that my words were perfectly timed for what she was experiencing just now.
A few days ago, I had another similar thought about another friend, who I also hadn’t seen for nearly a year. I had no idea what she was up to, or even which country she was in at the moment, but felt to message her some encouragement. Her response was: ‘Are you psychic?’
Now, I haven’t spoken properly to either of these friends for many months, and had no idea if these impressions were correct, but all I can put it down to is the Holy Spirit, connecting those dots and enhancing that connection with people.
I know it can sound really hippy-ish, but I often feel like as a Christian, when I have these times alone to recharge that connection, I’m connecting into the very life-force that shaped the universe, and that a tiny bit of that power and connection gets channelled through the very small capabilities and talents I bring to the world.
That’s not to say at all, that I have some monopoly on that, or even that coming out of that quiet place leads to me acting like some saint (or psychic) – far from it, most of the time. But I’m always amazed by the absolutely exponential benefit that derives from the small acts of silence and prayer – the way those things seem to shape the day in a million tiny, inexplicable ways. I guess it enhances awareness. Maybe I see things that normally I would miss, or I’m looking out for opportunities for connection I would normally be too self-absorbed to even see, let alone respond to.
What I’m trying to say is, anyone can do this. There’s no entrance examination or a bar set so high that it’s only possible to reach if you live a life of monastic calm, wearing white robes and eating kale. Just get away to a quiet place. Invite the Holy Spirit. And see what happens next.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)