An Hour By The Pond
All CFR sisters and friars take time each month for more intense prayer. Preferably “hermitage,” as it is called, takes place away from the city. The last few months left us to take “more intense times of prayer” right where we were. But now, with restrictions lifting, we are able to get out of New York City for the first time since March. This is a “word picture” of an hour pond-side in while on hermitage.
The grasses are tall, and the marsh from which they grow is a wet announcement of the pond’s edge. Blue glimmering dragonflies find one another and perform intricate dances above, around and between the swaying green blades, then dart and twirl over the pond and away again, only to be back in a moment for another performance. “Near restful waters He leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.”
Down the length of the pond a deer ventures in for a drink. Behind her is another, then three more. All wade in with caution and drink their fill. They linger a while, raising their necks from time to time for a glance this way and that, with the restless watchfulness of prey. I quell all movement save breath—loath to frighten them from water’s edge and from sight. “Like a deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for You my God.”
Gazing now at a sky of soft blue with a few clouds of pure white, I become aware of the air. The temperature is un-guessable, because it is not overly hot, nor oppressive with humidity, and there is no chill breeze as there can sometimes be in spring. As I ponder the perfection of the moment, a large stork, high above the trees, soars into view. Is it a stork? Or perhaps it’s a heron? It glides low, circles back into shallow water and lands with a hop near the decrepit boardwalk. Yes, certainly it is a stork. “I know all the birds in the sky, all that moves in the field belongs to Me.”
My attention is pulled by a deep croak issued forth from center pond. Unseen, but well heard, he croaks again. From the tall grasses before me comes an answering croak, and what seems to be an important conversation ensues. After their cordial exchange, the bull frogs fall silent again just as a high-pitched bird call from the wood behind me summons my attention. He calls again, and a third time. I cannot discern a response and wonder if his comrades are deeper in the forest and unable to hear him. Now a lower note comes, a call from a pitch-black bird with red shoulders, as he alights on the beaver’s grass-covered dam. From his perch he utters his deep squall again. The bird of high-pitched voice, from the trees offers a response, but Red Shoulders flies away in the opposite direction. “Look at the birds off in the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?”
A dog far from the pond’s edge—in fact, he is all the way across the street on his own porch—releases one deep old bark to participate and then falls quiet. The saw in Fr. Albert’s hand can be heard faintly in the distance, as a butterfly with sun-colored wings flits before me signaling that all will be well—all is well. Because every living thing is busy existing for the praise of His glory.
Mother Clare, CFR