To wander is to walk leisurely or to move aimlessly. I wonder what thoughts or images come to your mind when you consider the word. Thoughts or eyes wandering instead of focusing on the task in hand? A wandering minstrel? Or in a Biblical context, the Israelites wandering around for 40 years before they finally reached the Promised Land?
There are approximately 55-58 references to wandering in the Bible, depending on which version you use. Some refer to the Israelites Journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Some refer to people wandering from the faith. Some refer to specific individuals, for example Hagar and her son wandered in the desert, when they were sent away by Abraham and Jesus himself went into the wilderness for 40 days. He probably wandered about while he was there.
As a child, at one of the primary schools I attended, there was a term when we had to learn a poem a week. The teacher would choose members of the class to stand up and recite the poem to the class. It was risky not to learn the poem, as you would be in trouble if you were picked and were unable to recite it! One of the poems was ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ by William Wordsworth. It came to mind as I began to write this reflection and I was surprised by how much of it I could still remember! Here is the first and last verse:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Go for a Wander Outdoors
I would like to invite you to to follow Wordsworth’s example (at some point this week!) and to go for a wander outside. Nature is fuel for the soul, as he discovered and mentions in the last verse of his poem. As you wander:
- Take time to observe the barren and seemingly dead aspects of the landscape you are walking in. The bare trees, the dead leaves, the twigs on the pathway. What is God saying to you through these?
- Reflect on your life and acknowledge any areas which you feel are barren and seemingly lifeless. Pray about these as you walk.
- Take time to observe all the different signs of new life, in the landscape you are walking in. What is God saying to you through these?
- Reflect on your life and acknowledge any areas which you feel are developing and showing signs of new beginnings. Pray about these as you walk and give thanks to God for them. To reflect further on your life as it is at the moment, at this stage of the COVID-19 Pandemic, see The Field
A few years ago the singer Audrey Assad recorded a song called ‘I wonder as I wandered’. You can listen to it here.
During the season of Advent, we often mark the Journey towards Christmas by lighting an Advent candle daily. I have discovered a way to make a prayer spiral, candle holder to use in Lent. It featured in an Ignatian Lent series. You can watch a two minute video about the prayer spiral here. I am lighting the candle daily and pausing and pondering on the Lent reading of the day.
If you would like to make your own prayer spiral, you can email me at, email@example.com and I will send you the recipe.