What a weird lesson to learn - yet again - it never quite sticks this one!
I had been worrying what to do with all the excess candle wax collected in the vast glass bowl in which I have been sacrificing one giant candle on a weekly basis. To me it seemed such an enormous waste - just to throw it out without a care in the world, and they are certainly not cheap either. And then there was more in the old aluminium yoghurt bowl that I had been using for the smaller versions - three at a time no less. Evenings, needless to say remain well lit even during the short power cuts that happen every few hours. The candle light and religious music on Spotify make praying and meditating a most pleasurable and fulfilling experience. These times also fill the void which is a natural consequence of working overseas, in a strange environment with few if any like-minded people to share in my religious fervor.
Deep into Eid Al Adha - the Muslim festive period, which celebrates the sacrifice of Ishmael by his father Abraham (stopped just in time by the hand of God) I find myself still mildly troubled by the western work ethic which tells me to crack on regardless, knocking out field reports, strategy documents and concept notes despite the fact that everyone else is on holiday - resting, relaxing and enjoying their free time. I am not entirely convinced that anyone will even notice my diligence when they return to work next week. And this despite the fact that I promised myself to use this extended holiday period to pray more, fast more, relax more and simply listen to God in the silence. Taking time out to pray more, fast more and to relax more is something that most people can only dream of yet, right at this moment, I am actually being paid to do it! Why then such a struggle?
Is it me putting myself back into control of things as ever. Somehow I begin to imagine that things really will not work without me, that nothing positive will actually happen next week unless it is me directing operations as usual. And all this goes against what I really know to be true - that God is in charge and nothing good will happen unless he wills it.
So removing the metal disc and remnants of wick from the now extinguished candle I pull out my pocket knife and whittle away at the excess wax. I enjoyed thoroughly the way my knife sliced through it and created perfectly symmetrical shavings. Then, I realised how easily these shavings could be used to fill the empty space around each new candle. So I whittled and whittled away for twenty minutes and my mind was finally at rest. I spent more time arranging the pieces and setting more candles in place knowing that no wax would ever be wasted again. Solving this mighty conundrum gave me great pleasure and would assure many more hours of well lit prayer and meditation at a fraction of the cost.
And so it was that I realised in the smallest and most insignificant acts it is possible to feel and hear the presence of God and to know that He indeed is in charge of everything. Try therefore not to worry and try always to have a mind for God, for it is only He who can bring that inestimable peace that we all crave. How often we know what is necessary and what must been done to achieve peace in our lives yet steadfastly deny that peace to ourselves by doing the exact opposite.
I will now go and pray more, fast more and relax more... work can wait till later when God sets the desire within me.