Finding your song
Still yourself in silence
To set a certain time of silence, you can use a meditation app or timer on your phone.
You may like to light a candle.
Make yourself comfortable, and place your body in a relaxed position.
Perhaps by uncrossing your arms or legs, feet flat on the floor and hands resting in your lap.
Keep warm, with a blanket.
Close your eyes or look at the candle.
Distractions like noise or other thoughts will come like birds over your head. Let them come, acknowledge them and let them fly off again, you can deal with them later (or quickly jot down on a piece of paper).
Allow yourself to breathe. Count a few breaths. Slow deep breaths to encourage stillness. Listen to that breathing.
What else can you hear? Acknowledge it, without judging it. Really listen.
You may like to use a breath prayer or phrase to keep you focused. This could be a few meaningful words or a short verse.
At the end, don’t rush off. Let your body tell you when you are ready.
What matters to you?
Watch the waves in the video below, as they ebb and flow, come and go, no one being the same as another.
After a while, however, you may notice that there is a timeless consistency to these waves. A sureness that these waves, even though they wash in and out, will continue enduringly. The view here from the Coastal Path is probably what Poldark saw, the monks at Looe island and the Celts before them. I love the anchoring ancientness about them, like large oak trees and stars. Take time to celebrate the mystery of the constantly changing yet timeless nature of the waves and what is behind their power.
What in your life sometimes feels transitory, difficult to pin down or understand; but is actually consistent and enduring? What is lasting and what matters to you, solid like a rock?
If you have a stone, take time to feel it; the weight, the solidness, impenetrableness. What are the feelings that come as you hold the stone?
Conversely, are there some things in your life that seemed solid and dependable, but actually weren’t (easier to work out in this stripped back time of lockdown). Recognise and value the difference between the two.
You may want to reflect on the story Jesus tells of 2 people; one building their house on sand and the other on rock. Which foundations in your life at the moment are like sand and which are like rock? Are there any changes you want to make?
If possible, write on the stone what is solid, lasting and matters to you; so you can remember when life is churning too much.
What is alive in you?
Imagine sitting by this brook with a friend, loved one or perhaps Jesus (if that’s your faith background). Tell them what is alive in you at the moment. What is making your heart beat faster (positively or negatively).
Tell your friend, what are you needing right now? (Apart from the sky blue camper van, obviously) What are your deeper needs? Needs that you realise are not being met currently and thus making life difficult. Sometimes we find it hard to acknowledge these needs to ourselves or communicate them to others. And by the way, no one is judging or comparing what is a need for you.
('What is alive in you?' and 'what are your needs?' are 2 questions taken from Marshall Rosenberg's work on Non-violent Communication and are key to helping us understand ourselves and then how we relate to others).
Imagine what your friend may say to you about these needs you highlight.
Now imagine them giving you something from the brook. What is it? What does it represent? Thank them and sit with the gift for a while by the brook.
Perhaps later, think about whether there are needs that you could share honestly and specifically to someone close to you? Openly, without demand and criticism. Perhaps write them down for later.
Finding your song
Birds (video or still photo of a bird, plus sound recording of birdsong on loop)
What are you urging to; shout, lament, remember, exhort, encourage at the moment? What do you want to express to others and to the divine?
Listen to the birds and write your own song or; haiku, hymn, mindmap, stream of consciousness prose, dance, drawing or explosion of colour.
When finished, you may like to write your experience, feelings and reactions in a journal or any specific actions these reflections inspire.
Apologies for my lack of technical ability in putting these two together. However, they can be played at the same time, with the sound of the Robin singing in the trees. The singing was recorded March last year and the film January this year.
Perhaps in finding our song, we need to recognise our brokenness. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have life all figured out yet. Here is some encouragement in Bridget Braybrooks poem referring to the art of Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese art form which draws attention to artistry, to imperfection and to fragility.
There are days
When we know the fragility of our forming
Fissure lines creak
right down to where the soul and spirit meet
And one clumsy word
Will slice and crack us open
a de-formed pot
spilling its contents
Life leaves lines sometimes
scars in the container of our living
make a cross for us to bear
in our becoming
in our broken mending brokenness
we are reformed
and the still tender seams in us
meet and cross
like a kiss on a furrowed brow
like lines on a map
seen through cracked earth
In time the container wears thin
with heavy glory
and we are content
to carry our eternal content
in leaking pots
Thanks to Bridget for allowing us to use her lovely poem and painting. Please go to her website for more information.
I hope you have enjoyed this time of reflection.
If you wish, take another time of silent meditation and let some of these reflections sink in.
For those joining our online retreat on 20th or 27th February, at 4pm there will be another zoom call. Do join us if you wish to either share what you have experienced or listen to what others have found. This will be a time to listen and not a discussion. After that we will have a short closing blessing and time of worship.