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At church lately we have been doing a series called ‘Life in the margins’, exploring the idea of living with margins to allow for rest and reflection and refreshment with God rather than cramming every minute of the day with stuff until you burn out. James has talked a lot about the how Jesus withdrew to the ἔρημος – eremos. It’s a wilderness, a quiet place, a lonely place. He needed time alone, away from the noise of life and the demands on him, to reset, to be still and hear his Father’s voice.

Today driving home from an early morning video shoot I had the compulsion to pull into the wetlands and go for a walk. It’s not really wilderness in the sense that it’s completely away from everything but I do like that there is this pocket of quiet in the middle of this busy little town. I wanted to be still, to listen.

Today I didn’t get very far, only to the first bridge, and it was a slow amble. But to be moving, to feel the sun on my face mixed with the cold air, it was good.

I sat down on one of the wooden benches on the first bridge, greeting other walkers who passed, then turned off my podcast, took out my headphones and just sat there. For a long time.

I looked at the mud bank at low tide and felt “that’s me” (the photo in the header). A trickle of water down the middle, it looks drained and bereft somehow. Unlovely.

But sitting still in the eremos, I felt my mind calm, my heart rate slow. Everything seemed to just whisper rest. I wrote:

Pops of the mud as creatures venture out. The swish of the reeds. Walkers footsteps approaching and recede in their own rhythm

Birds going about their business

A swan croons

The wetlands are full of multitudes but you need to sit quietly for them to reveal themselves

The winter sun warm and gentle. Blazing blue sky overhead

The Lord your God is in your midst. A mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

So much birdsong

The delight of birds on the wing, lazily swooping and looping. Or flitting and hopping. Or walking purposefully across the mud. Or standing, asleep, with their heads under their wings.

A swan’s ponderous plopping footsteps on the mud.

Mountains in the distance, shades of blue and grey.

Crisp cold air like the first bite of a ripe apple

My tired body on this wooden bench and there is no need to move, to go, to do.

The world ticks on, the cars fly past over there behind the trees, I hear hammering on the breeze. But I can just sit here amongst the rustles and ticks and chirps and trickling water and feel my heart slow, at peace.

It’s not bereft. It’s full of life. It will be filled again, when the tide comes back in. When it’s time.

So will I.