Hello, how are you doing?
I'm sorry I haven't written for a while, I just haven't really known what to say. I still don't know, to be honest, there are no answers to this situation. Furthermore, I want to sit with this lament for a while, the global cry of 'What is going on?' To sit with the pain, sadness, and anxiety and not run away from it.
In view of this black period, I have just started to read Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown Taylor. I am interested to hear her take on how we can find our footing in times of uncertainty and darkness like this and how we can appreciate it.
Are you reading or watching anything interesting at the moment? What is inspiring you?
As I am struggling with all the sadness and uncertainty around us and not wanting to hide from it, I am finding solace in seeking the presence of God. The questions and anxiety are still there, but somehow sitting still with God in this seems to help. Writing about the grounding stability on which Benidicitines focus, Rowan Williams (former Archbishop) says '[it] is the context in which we learn to sit still with whatever company arrives, in the confidence that God in Christ sits still with us.’ * To this end my neighbour and I have been attempting to continue our Monday Meditation, separately obviously, but are finding it hard to get motivated or, weirdly, find the time. So I wondered how you are getting on with finding space to reflect, and whether you would like to join us for half an hour of silence and stillness each week? Strength in numbers, even if virtual. If you are interested, let me know and I will email across our quote/poem/prayer prompt each week and some guidelines. There are lots of Apps for smartphones if you want a 'gong' to help start and finish off your time. E.g. Centering Prayer, Insight Timer or Meditation Timer. There are also lots of resources at WCCM (World Community of Christian Meditation.
* From his book The Way of St Benedict.
Resources for Retreating at home
Talking of stability our Quiet Day in June (probably postponed) 'Finding stability in times of change' may be useful to you. 'At a time when change is often feared, stability can be elusive, and busyness interferes with listening to God, this quiet day offers an opportunity for space and reflection.' Since we may not be able to run this, my friend Richard has created 3 short films in order for you to do this reflection at your own pace, in the comfort of your home. He has also written a book entitled Life with St Benedict, which 'provides daily reflections on the Rule as an aid to enabling personal spiritual growth and prayer. Benedictine communities use a well-established pattern of daily readings to enable the entire Rule to be considered over a four-month period.' The book follows this pattern which starts again on 2 May.' Find out more about Richard Frost on his blog Work. Rest. Pray
The Association for Promoting Retreats, which we are a member of, have also put together some resources of prayers, poems and reflections for use when Retreating at home.
Unfortunately, we have had to cancel our other Quiet Days, Wild God with Barney and Sara Barron; and Cherishing Creation with Andrew Hill on 2nd May. Hopefully, we can catch up with them soon and make some plans for September.
To our amazing helpers and all their hard work just prior to lockdown. They were able to claim our money off Monastic Gardening Fare. Thank you for fighting the brambles, scraping the bridge in the wood, weeding, chopping wood and clearing our gutters. We are very grateful.
Now that we are on lockdown, I too am getting on with stuff like painting the Byre, finishing our accounts, weeding the Labyrinth, and writing up the boring but essential, Fire Policy. Now I just need to paint the Hermitage to preserve the wood and we will be ready for you all to come again soon.
Be kind to yourself and those around you.