During a quiet moment, some time ago, I was reflecting on how simple beautiful moments can be a source of encouragement and hope during difficult times.

This reflection took me back to July 1991, when I joined an international pilgrimage, walking from Lourdes to Loyola, to celebrate the five hundredth year since the birth of St Ignatius of Loyola and the four hundred and fiftieth year since St Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus.

At the end of our tenth day, we camped in a field beneath a hill on which a disused, but still sound, Monastery stood. After a short while of putting our tents up, it started raining hard and a wind started to blow. We all huddled into our tents. The wind grew stronger and stronger. I had never experienced such a strong wind and, after a while, I realised that this was a tornado, not of the strongest kind thankfully! As I kneeled inside the tent, gripping onto its frame and praying that this storm would soon pass, the wind suddenly stopped! There was an eerie silence… this was the eye of the storm! I was very grateful for this calm moment, but also wondered what would happen next. The wind soon picked up again, as strong as before and after what seemed an endless time died down… the tent was still standing!

We spent the night in the Monastery, after being treated to a bowl of delicious warm soup. The following day dawned bright and sunny; the only reminder of the previous evening’s storm were the wet ground and tents.

This memory brought home to me how life-giving, short simple moments in my daily life can be – a smile, a budding flower, the changing colours of the sky during sunset, an uplifting message – and to fully savour and be grateful for them. They offer joy and a breather; a re-charge moment for when the “storm” hits again. These moments keep reminding me that God is always with me even if, at times, God seems silent and hidden.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)