Backyard Meditation

The Gift of Local Retreat


Click on the Movie and listen and look, pause and read.

I live about 5 minutes from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport - but we could well be living several miles away, in the country. Our street is quiet, tree-lined and off-beat, the kind of streets where driving instructors bring their students to learn how to park.

I recognize and appreciate that this is all gift, to me and our family over the years. Although some days are filled with the ambient noise of ascending or descending planes, depending on which way the wind is blowing, there are other days when the take-offs (eh) and landings are in opposite dwellings, leaving a certain calm and tranquility to my backyard.

It becomes a place of solace, quiet and meditation; a place to putz around with lawn and garden and what-have-you(?).

Winters are different of course - out there, back there. I’ll take Spring, Summer and Autumn though, as it comes - with deep gratitude and joy.

Time Alone

Just God and You is a good habit to develop. Just as a flower may be helped in its growth by a trellis - not to limit or curb but to guide and enhance growth, so disciplines can help in the formation of disciples, followers of a Way, followers of Christ. Time that is formally scheduled and specifically dedicated to time alone with God, to meditation and prayer, guided by Bible-reading - at least once a day if you can do that . . . well, who can tell what blessing that may bring you?

Here are some thoughts as to how . . .

Start small

It doesn’t have to be long - just a few moments, unless you find yourself 'lost in wonder, love and praise.’ And that will be a good thing despite whatever else you may be missing or late for. Don’t force it beyond what it is. Perhaps aim at a specific length of time - and for the discipline to ‘be there’ during that time; but let it happen as may be, though stretched and disciplined also, as you can manage it. Like any muscle, capacity is not built in a few hours or days in the gym; but regular, constant (even a little, often) exercise will get you there. Be practical but be persistent.

Guard your time

Try for a time and place where you’ll not be disturbed. That seems impossible for many of us, with our so (too) busy lives, with our families and responsibilities. But we do find time, don’t we(?), for what we want and need to do - or for what we could or should be doing. Isn’t there a time in the day when, despite all and everyone else, you have a few moments for yourself and for the disciplines that will help to build your life?

Your Body Too

This need not only be a mental exercise; your whole body can be involved. Through stretching and loosening up muscles and limbs, being aware of posture as a living body (and not merely a living soul), and breathing deeply and regularly, we will find ourself present to and within the creation, and with and to the Creator. Certainly that is our hope, our desire. Outer awareness can then move to inner focus - a kind of centering of heart and mind on the God who is there, and the you who is, too.

Get Comfortable But Not Too Much.

Your position can help or - not so much. A straight-backed chair might be best, or just your own good, straight back. Feet flat, if sitting; a cushion for here or there, perhaps. You might want to lie flat on a rug, on your front or back; you might want to sit in a lawn chair, though aware of body, breathing and of the Presence of Another whether with eyes open in surveying the beauty that surrounds, or eyes closed in imagining or receiving pictures and thoughts as they may arrive. Be comfortable in your body but aware still of the discipline of what you are about. Perhaps, cycles of stiff and rigid posture, an erect, kneeling posture (a time of hands lifted) will bring similarly accompanying awareness, while relaxation and rest of body will bring its own peace and solace within - again, in awareness of God’s Presence. A stillness and quietness of heart, mind and body as you rest in God’s Rest can be shifted and linked to a time of more energy, activity and awareness - even awkwardness and uncomforableness, which too is part of the Inner Journey. After all, there is a Cross in the Story, we would remember.


Prayer is talking to God; the rest is context. So, here you are alone - aware, seeking, at rest: - resting in the Presence. Reading and taking time to meditate on a particular Psalm can be helpful: - one of lament, of questioning, praise, of declaring faith and resolve, of thanksgiving. Reading one of the New Testament prayers - of Jesus, or Paul or another Disciple can be so helpful - not in studying it in these moments; but in letting its words, its impacts, its feelings, its meanings, wash over us, inform us, calm or inspire us. I like to pray the ancient ‘Jesus Prayer’ - in the rhythm of my breath: "Lord. Jesus. Christ. Son of God, Have mercy upon me.” Over and over - not as mindless mantra, but as living, loving communication. And yet, just as the front point of a plow digs into the soil, so the Jesus Prayer can help the mind to rest within the deep self, so that the soil of the heart is cultivated and the seeds of thought, a creative idea or expression of love and motive for service can be sown, to gradually germinate and come to fruition.

Meditation. Take the time. You’ll grow thereby in your spiritual life, your walk with Christ, your worship and service of the Living God. As the Nike slogan has it: ‘Just Do It!’



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