When I was a kid, our family kept a May altar. For those who recall the 1950’s, that was not unusual. A home May altar consisted of a statue of Mary placed somewhere for the family to see and perhaps stop and pray. It was a home shrine, if you will, and was kept up throughout the month of May, the month of Mary.

            I somehow inherited the responsibility of providing flowers for the altar. So every other day or so, after getting home from school, I would venture into my uncle’s woods about a half mile from our house, and pick lots of wild flowers. As the month went on, the supply of potential flowers would vary in both types and quantity. (There are far fewer wild flowers in the woods once the leaves that block the sun are on the large trees.)

            I liked having this job. I think I was prayerful by nature, and I saw this as my particular way of offering devotion to God. But the hidden blessing was having so much alone time in the woods. Being in a big family, I was often with siblings, something I also cherished. But being alone offered me time to become reflective.

            Both kids and adults need to learn to be reflective. It’s more than being alone. Being meditative allowed me to find God in the quiet. It’s not just that I enjoyed the woods, but that in the woods I enjoyed God’s presence.

“…he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.”

Luke 5:16