After Morning Prayer was over, the silent presence of God filled the hearts of us all gathered in the Chapel. After a moment of silent reflection, the lector arose and snuffed the candles next to the altar. From my place in the Leader’s pew, I watched as curling wisps and tendrils of grayish-white smoke drifted elegantly upward. It was a sight I had seen many times, but this time it was different. I was able to still see the smoke, dispersed in the air like an invisible, lacy fabric, hanging imperceptibly above the altar as it continued to drift heavenward.It was beautiful.I was struck that I noticed something I had not before, that I had seen the smoke still lingering in the air long after it was no longer visible as a plume or thread of smoke coming from the smoldering wick. How often had I not noticed what was barely, but still, there? How often had something delicate and tender and beautiful escaped my notice?
We are always in the mind of God, never unnoticed or forgotten. God always sees what we cannot, do not, will not, see about ourselves. Our lives, every aspect of them, are like the “prayers that arise like incense” (Psalm 141:2) before God.We are the sweetest smell, the most delicate fragrance, the most fragile wisp of smoke. God notices us, treasures us, and rejoices in us. Our calling as a human community is to notice the invisible yet ever-close presence of God within and among us all, and to exclaim in response:“You are beautiful.”
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.