The Boundless Beauty of Holy Ground

This is a guest post by Michelle Lesher, SSJ.


Picture it. An August retreat. A sunset as beautiful as any I had ever seen. The colors turned the sky into an artist’s canvas and I felt compelled to immortalize it using the camera on my brand new smart phone – Should be easy, right? I think not. Instead, what I got was shot after shot of a blurry hazy ball of orange nothing. Frustrated, I held the camera face down in front of me trying to figure out how in the world to zoom in so that I could see something; anything with a little more clarity. I accidentally pushed the shutter button and this is what I saw:

Sand Close-up

This was most definitely not the lovely sunset still happening in front of me! In fact, it took me a few moments to realize what I was seeing – the sand magnified so many times that each individual sparkling grain could be seen in all of its glory! It caught my attention and touched my heart immediately. This brown, ugly, grainy dirt below my feet held such boundless beauty – talk about holy ground!

So, I zoomed out and took the same picture again and realized of course that this is what my own limited eyes always see whenever I look at the sand. Not quite so wondrous.

Sand zoomed out

Seeing this, I began to wonder what else I miss when I don’t look deeply enough — when I don’t take the time to reflect on the experiences that I have each day – to pray for wisdom and grace with regard to each interaction, relationship, phone call, task, etc. What deeper meaning is right there just below the surface if only I take the time with God to look more deeply?

After all, isn’t this what my life as a Sister of Saint Joseph is all about – being a contemplative in action? Doesn’t it ask that I not only take the time to reflect on my experiences but that I become so in tune with God that every action is, in and of itself, a moment of contemplation? If, with the help of God’s grace, I live in such a way to cultivate that kind of contemplative heart and spirit, I have a feeling that more of my days would match the beauty, insight, wisdom, clarity and depth of the first picture. May it be so!

Michelle Lesher is a Sister of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia and a graduate of Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. She has an MA in Pastoral Ministry with a Concentration in Youth and Young Adult Faith Formation from Boston College and is currently serving as Co-Director of Vocation Ministry for her Congregation. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the flute, singing, reading, yoga and spending time with good people.

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