We all need special places where we can be freed from the confines of daily chores, from distractions that impinge on our ability to express our inner thoughts freely. I wanted to share with you two such places that have helped my family cope with the difficult restrictions imposed on us since last Easter due to COVID. In our home an Icon of the Face of Jesus, which a friend gave us just before lockdown, has become the centre of a special place where we come to focus on prayer, to hear Mass, to light candles for special intentions and to be quiet together. It is at the heart of a very special place for it represents the presence of Our Lord in our home and in our lives.
The Celtic Peace Gardens, at the Iosas Centre have been a haven for my husband and I as they lie close to where we live. Early in the morning we would go there to walk, to talk quietly, to be alone, to read or to pray. The gardens are hidden from the road but are well sign posted and for those who can reach them worth a visit. Visitors are welcome and in all corners of the gardens, seating is strategically placed to attract the passer-by to sit for a moment and reflect on the beauty of nature, to offer a prayer, to breathe in very tranquil surroundings. Different paths invite the visitor to enter small buildings which are named after some of the patron saints of our island. Inside of these you can relax, pray, think, often whilst you shelter from the weather, which given our very wet and cold Winter is an added blessing!
The gardens gently nudge you to think about important events in Christ’s life. At Christmas, the introduction of a large star which stood high above the gardens, to me proclaimed the birth of Christ loudly. No other words were needed. In the cold, with frost on the ground and the dusk of evening, it was easy to spend a little time remembering the gift of love that Jesus’ birth brought to the world and to his earthly family. An unconditional love that I am reminded of as we journey now with Jesus through Holy Week to the peace and joy of Easter. We always returned home feeling refreshed and at peace.
I believe it is important for people to find places where they are comfortable, where they feel secure, where they are able to express their thoughts and prayers without distraction. Each of us needs our own special places where we can continue to build our relationship with God. These are two of mine. I wonder what place is special to you and why?
Briege Lewis, married to Jude, is a retired teacher and volunteer with the Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre.