|Walking through trees in my backyard|
When we lived in East Lansing one of my prayer places was thirty feet up in a tall pine tree in a forest preserve. The branches formed a ladder leading upward. It was an easy climb to the two thick branches that formed a seat. Many times I climbed that tree, hung my backpack on a branch, sat on that natural seat, and prayed. I loved when there was a slight wind that gently waved the tree from side to side. I would close my eyes and think of the Holy Spirit shaping and forming me.
During that time I wore a leather wristband I had made. On the wristband I burned the words "A holy indifference." I got the phrase from Henri Nouwen. Nouwen prayed that he would have a holy indifference to the opinions of others so that he might have a holy concentration on God.
This word was for me, too. If I had this I would be able to more purely love people. I would not go up and down with what others thought of me. I would be free from people-pleasing, striving to gain others' love and avoid others' criticism.
I had been doing too much of that, and the result was much outward striving and agitation in my heart. So I carved "A holy indifference" on a leather band, wore it on my wrist, climbed a tree, and prayed.
One day, as I was in the praying tree, God told me to take off the wristband and tie it around a branch. I felt I could let it go. God was doing a good thing in me. I was moving into greater freedom, from pleasing people to loving people.
Last night at Redeemer, before I spoke, God reminded me of this. I've written "A holy indifference" on a 3X5 card and am carrying it with me. I wrote it in my journal. The freedom God brought into my life years ago is being revisited and attended to today. (Thank you God - I needed to hear this again!)
Is it possible to hear from God? I've written about this in Chapter 5 of my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.