A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Hidden In Plain View – A Do-it-Yourself One-Day Retreat in Daily Life

By Liz Pearce

by Liz Pearce

Have you ever had the experience where you have searched for something everywhere, over and over, only to have someone else come along and see it immediately, “hidden in plain view”?

I think my encounters with God are often like that. I search in books and on tapes, at lectures and in homilies, in groups and on retreats, in busy-ness and in the silence, for what seems at times to be an elusive God.

And then, someone comes along and says, “Did you see …?”

What I need is a complete orientation of the heart, of the mind, of the soul. A spiritual ‘medical’. An exercise in attuning my senses and my intuition to encounter the divine. Just like Michelangelo’s ‘Adam’ tentatively reaching out to God: looking, listening, reaching, heart racing. Or Vincent Van Gogh’s vase of sunflowers, redolent with the warmth of the sun, the gift of the rain, the nourishment of the earth, drawing me in to encounter Beauty.

So I have composed a retreat in daily life. One day. Any day. My life. Pausing for a few moment at the beginning of each hour to become aware of my breath, to look, to listen, to feel, to stand on holy ground. Perhaps, like Mary Magdalene hearing Jesus whisper her name, or Elizabeth feeling her unborn child dance in her womb, or Thomas touching the wounds of Jesus, I will see what is ‘hidden in plain view’: Love seeking me out.

Here is what I did. 

I set the timer on my phone to chime on the hour, setting me free to do what I usually do without ‘watching the clock’. I asked for the grace to be attentive, to be mindful. As Brother Ramon puts it “… mindfulness means ‘to enter into, to enjoy, to absorb what is immediately before you.” He adds that “to chop an onion, peel a turnip … done in mindfulness can be an act of meditation and a source of tranquility and thankfulness.” (in Huggett). And then, I entered my day.

I am scrabbling around on my hands and knees collecting feijoas.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Lord, you are the breath of life.

Feijoas nestled on the leaf litter and twigs. I remember that this mulch will enrich the soil and help produce a healthy crop next year. I learn that the detritus in my life: mistakes, errors of judgement, failures, will, given time and work, nourish me and help me mature.

God transforms everything to good.

Cherish the goodness of God.

I am running water.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Lord, you are the breath of life.

Water. Pure gift. Could this water that trickles over my fingers be the same water that Jesus asked to be drawn from Jacob’s well? It does indeed give me life.

God dwells in the miracles of science, the miracles of faith.

Cherish the goodness of God.

I am walking to the mail box.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Lord, you are the breath of life.

Everywhere … in the back garden, on the lawns … are mushrooms. Orange, hooded fungi. Large, flat, dark brown mushrooms. A myriad of cream and tan fungi of all sizes. I am sure they were not there yesterday. Microscopic spores, hidden, waiting for the optimum conditions to flourish. I need to be patient and wait for the right time to act, to speak, to create.

God inhabits the waiting, the liminal space.

Cherish the goodness of God.

I am slowing down for the amber light.yellow traffic light

Breathe in. Breathe out. Lord, you are the breath of life.

I become aware of the need to slow down, to pause, before making a move or a choice. Counting to ten. Saving a draft before sending an e-mail. Simply saying, “I need to think about that.”

God honours the pause.

Cherish the goodness of God.

Now it is evening. I am walking the dog.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Lord, you are the breath of life.

I am standing under a lamp post, while the dog does what dogs do at lamp posts! I consider those who have contributed to the light under which I stand. Designers, inventors, glassmakers, sheet metal workers, graphic artists who design the packaging, electricians, cargo ships to transport lamps and components from their country of origin, procurement offices, rubbish disposal, freight delivery, cherry pickers, maintenance workers, concrete mixers … the list is very, very long. All that I may walk my dog at night in safety.

God, the beginning of the chain, and the end. The Alpha and Omega.

Cherish the goodness of God.

“And after a long, lonesome and scary time… the people listened,

and began to hear …

And to see God in one another …

and in the beauty of the Earth

And Old Turtle smiled.

And so did God.”

Hidden in plain view, I encountered the divine in transformations, in pauses, in beginnings and endings, in tranquility and thankfulness, in beauty and in humus, in science and in faith. God smiled. And so did I.



Haas, David Table Songs GIA Publications, Inc, 1991

Huggett, Joyce Learning the Language of Prayer The Bible Reading Fellowship, 1994

Wood, Douglas Old Turtle Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers, 1992

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