I had an opportunity to spend some quiet time alone at Jay Cooke State Park this spring. Someone highly recommended that I cross the swinging bridge and sit on the rocks in the middle of the St. Louis River. I didn’t have far to go to find the swinging bridge, which is located right behind the interpretation center. It seemed pretty solid to me and sure enough, after being rebuilt after the flood, I would have to say most of its swinging times are behind it.
The views from the bridge are absolutely spectacular. As I looked upriver, I saw the turbulent waters flowing down two sides of an islet and crashing through rapids. I turned to look downriver and was surprised at how quickly the waters became calm once past the rapids, even though the flow was still very rapid. I decided to go sit on the rocks for a while.
I made my way to the highest point which was also the point that was farthest into the rapids. The mist emanating from the rapids was quite refreshing. It was a gorgeous day and warm, and I wanted to lie down on my back and enjoy the quiet. I think you will agree with me that lying down on a rock in the middle of a river with the sun warming your face and mist to bring you occasional moisture while enjoying the sounds of nature–breeze, rustling leaves, song birds–is a near-perfect experience.
There was just one problem. I couldn’t lie down! I felt unsafe or insecure. There wasn’t anyone around and the place was very safe, so what on earth was going on? It occurred to me that since I was on this adventure on a desert day, perhaps I was afraid of the conversation I might have with God if I really let myself relax and let my guard down. Uh oh. Let go… Let go… Trust God… Trust God…
I was eventually able to lie down and relax. I started to pray and meditate. I seemed to be lying down in the middle of my life. How often do circumstances lead to inner–and sometimes not so inner–turmoil? A strong prayer life and trusting in God’s providence in these situations really does lead to a resolution to the turmoil in the form of inner peace even in the presence of circumstances which cannot be controlled. That’s what lying down on the rock was like. At my feet were the rapids and at my feet was the calmer water. And I was God’s trusting child, resting in the cleft of the rock.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your
ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau
Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau is a Benedictine Sister at Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from Quebec, Canada, she lived in the Southeastern United States for 16 years before coming to Duluth. She did research in the field of exercise physiology for over years, and more recently completed a graduate degree in theology, while volunteering in parishes, giving workshops and retreats.