Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Sunday, December 20, Evening
By Rev. Jan Buxton Wade
Breath of Heaven
Read John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
At age 22 I graduated college, stuffed my belongings into one large suitcase and headed to England for a teaching post at the American School at Lakenheath Air Force Base. A contract awaited, I was assured, but nothing had been signed. Thrilled to have landed a job in the land of Jane Austin, Thomas Hardy, and the Brontë sisters, whose works I had studied, I felt I was the luckiest person alive.
When my jet lag had passed, I met the Headmaster, who sadly informed me my position had been given to a teacher with a master’s degree. I was greatly disheartened, but signed on as a substitute teacher for three days weekly at a skimpy salary. My discouragement brought a bonus, however, as I had many free days to explore throughout a breathtakingly beautiful autumn and a nippy, but enchanting, winter.
One frigid December morning, I found myself alone in the quiet ruins of St. Edmunds Abbey near River Lark. Patches of snow & heavy frost coated the dark earth and grassy stubbles peeped through here and there. A low fog enshrouded the structure’s jagged arches, through which the sun cast a pink shimmering glow. I recall standing at the gate, absorbing the mystical scene for a long time. Eventually I crossed over the ancient low stone walls & moved reverently through the timeworn transept. I left with a peace that remains indescribable.
During winter’s chill, this treasured memory resurfaces, and I imagine myself once again stepping along the frozen ground where 11th – 16th century worshipers met to pray. I replay the scene in my head, breathing in the peace it gave me then. 2020 has brought much anxiety and discouragement, but the Holy One has never stopped inviting us to breathe in the peace he freely offers…
Breath of Heaven, bring me life; Breath of Heaven, bring me courage; Breath of Heaven, bring me peace. Amen.
Rev. Jan Buxton Wade is the Minister of Spiritual Enrichment at Church Street United Methodist Church.