The Power of Prayerful Readings, Even at the Beach
Comfort, peace, and the guidance of the Lord can occur just about anywhere and at any time
With my toes in the sand and the sun shining above, I sat on a section of beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and cracked open a book.
It wasn’t your typical “beach read,” though these days that’s hard to define. It was something I’d been carrying around for a week or so and meaning to dip into — and finally had the chance.
As the kids around us dug holes in the sand, parents relaxed in chairs and vacationers as far as the eye could see enjoyed the last waves of summer, I read this passage: "Slow down. Temper your frantic pace. Velocity is not your friend ... Inhale the guidance that [God] would give you. Focus on the precise moment [and] count it as a blessing."
On a rare vacation day — how apt.
For the next 30 minutes or so, I read this and more from a lovely little book just out, called "Life Lessons: 125 Prayers and Meditations," by Julia Cameron. It offered peace after a busy week, a pause after sprinting, a break after fretting. And it reminded me, as so many others know well, that prayerful thoughts can occur anywhere, not just in church or during services. God hears us when our cry is silent and random, or when it's joined by other voices during Mass and proclaimed among hundreds or even thousands of others.
God hears us when we're squeezing in a prayer between errands or activities — or planning it in advance, with precision. He hears us when we least expect that He might. There's joy without exception to be found in that understanding. He hears our prayers and meditations no matter how imperfect, how brief, how cobbled together, or how crazily common.
I also read this: "Ask God to give you the long view. Strive to find the silver lining in adversity." So worth remembering.
And this: "Feel yourself grow in faith."
And this, too: "Be alert for signs and signals [of that faith]."
A curious young family member asked me later, "Why were you reading that book on the beach — why that one?"
The answer from the heart was, "It gave me comfort."
Was it a replacement for a Bible? Never.
Was it the only thing I read during a little leisure time? No.
But handy, small and easy to access at that moment in time and on that day, for just a brief while, it made all the sense in the world.
The Cameron book was published a week ago. I'm sure it will bring comfort and moments of respite, reflection and more to many others as well for some time to come, no matter where they read it, no matter the circumstances.
"At day's end, count your blessings," it also shared. "Allow yourself to feel gratitude for the many small things that have gone well."
In today's frenetic society, that's definitely worth remembering, too.