I have seriously been needing a break.
"Yeah, yeah, tell me about it." I can hear the response of most anyone who might be reading this. It seems to me the stresses and strains of life build up in degrees of intensity, straining for the release a respite can bring.
1) Firstly, there is that general longing that is universally shared most days.
2) Continue on and you get to a more forceful ache that can ebb and flow but never quite leaves.
3) A bit further down the chain lies what could be described as a strong desire.
4) We then move into a constancy of need, relentless and at times teetering on the edge of a very steep precipice.
5) Finally there's the pressure cooker effect that has built up to the point of volatile explosion. (Or maybe that's just me.)
Prior to this weekend, I was at about a 4. Thankfully, I was blessed to be able to get away for a Women's Retreat in Asheville with ladies from my church. I hate to say it, but my stresses had built up so much that I was really on auto-pilot for most of the time, unable to truly connect and plug in, although I did try. Before leaving home, I had decided to stay in that beautiful area for another night, and another lovely lady from church agreed to share room and board and time with me. It wasn't what I'd had in mind originally, but it was what I needed. We were able to relax, drink some wine, get to know a new friend a little better, and simply unwind. The next morning, we had a delicious and leisurely breakfast with the other patrons of the Wright Inn and Carriage House (prepared by others' hands - aaah, what a gift), and made our way to Grace Centre church to hear a wonderful message.
I got a very special treat Sunday morning. This church hosts the work of local artists on a rotating basis in their entry foyer. The exhibit being displayed there currently are works that truly moved me to stillness. I stood in front of each piece, looking and looking... and experiencing. The artist is Elizabeth Polfus. On her website you can look at the Unveiled Series to see some of the works she has on display - some are there at the church but not available to view online, I'm sorry to say. Each and every portrayal is amazing, not only to see, but to contemplate. I have carried them home in my memory and continue to reflect upon them and let them rest on my mind's eyes. The one I chose for this post is titled Conduit, as in a channel, course, or carrier. I loved it because I see the hands of a prayer warrior, pressing the light of His truth into the darkness. It is such an active, giving, life-affecting painting. It inspires me.
I placed it on my computer background so that I can look at it each time I come here. This afternoon, I find I am looking back over how this time of weekend away refreshed me. That little break has helped me return to love my family better, penetrating calming peace into my heart in a way that is evident in my relationships with others and myself.
I consider those hands of prayer, and I realize that while at times they are my hands, tending to and strengthening, interceding for and aiding others; first and foremost they are the powerful hands of His Spirit. I am blessed to place my hands in His, to come alongside Him in prayer for my own needs and those of others.
And I see that His hands were ministering to me in prayer all along.
*The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us.