The Annunciation Trust

to help you discover the God you already know

Month: November 2019


A few years ago I was at a day conference with Silence in the City. It was a hot summer’s day. I was due to meet up with a couple of people later. Towards the end of the talk, both people sent texts begging off because of the heat. I was irritated. I do not understand being unable to cope with the heat. Just deal with it!

I had a discomfiting revelation the next day. I was at a meeting in a church in the City. There was so much noise: the interminable roar of traffic and the beeping of reversing trucks; the wearing whir of air-conditioning; the repetitious patronising announcements on public transport. I struggle with noise. I get steamed up. I just want some silence!

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence …

TS Eliot, Ash Wednesday V

Noise is my kryptonite. The ‘discomfiting’ revelation was an equation: my response to noise is like their response to heat, and if I can’t cope with noise I must allow them not to cope with heat. I could show a little kindness. We each have our bêtes noires.

I stayed at Montserrat in Spain for three nights at the end of September. The landscape is beautiful and impressive. The monastery and basilica are beautiful and impressive too, but they are a production. A steady stream of coaches brings tourists. I went to the basilica several times during my visit. It was impossible to find a quiet place to pray. There was an incessant flow of people making a noise, milling around, chatting, taking selfies, ordering each other about, and squeezing past where I was sitting. I could not settle to prayer. I grew irate.

And then, by grace, I realised I had a choice: I could indulge the fury or I could pray. I chose to pray. I chose to see this as an opportunity to practise being centred, focused, present, and attentive in the midst of continual disturbance. I chose presence over anger. A non-distracted, non-anxious, centre grew in my chest.

[For more about choosing presence over anger, read this.]

An image of a boulder in a fast-flowing river came (by grace) to me. The river is rushing along and making a lot of noise about it. It is exciting and attention-seeking. The boulder is unperturbed. The river has to find a way around.

[Read this to learn how to practise being like the boulder, intent of being, while everything around it is calling for attention.]

We are assaulted by claims on attention: distraction is the means and the end of consumerism. Moreover, I choose distraction over what is most important to me. I tend towards the quick and easy entertainments and tasks that give a short-term lift, rather than more satisfying undertakings requiring greater effort and concentrated attention over a longer time. I want to choose what to attend to, or I fear I will never do anything properly and never really live.

[For help choosing what to do next, read this.]

[Syndicated from]

Preemptive strikes upon the Divine

Stop asking God for what you think you want.

What God is waiting for is not a right conclusion to a matter but for our suppleness in falling into His hands for Him to work in us.

Benedicta Ward, Discernment: A Rare Bird

When I ask people what they say to God, they often tell me they ask God to change their, or other people’s, attitudes, behaviours, and situations.

A manager asks God for more patience (with her difficult colleagues).A mother worries about her adult children’s standing with God and prays God will make them come back to church (which bores them stupid).
A man feels guilty that he feels angry towards his husband (who never helps out at home) and asks God to help him be kinder.
A vicar (who is harried by a demanding congregation) asks God to help her enjoy visiting the sick.
A city dweller (who is fed up with the frenetic lifestyle and noisy, dirty streets) asks God for help to find a place to live in Cornwall.
I’m feeling a lot of fear at the moment (more on this another time). I want God to stop me being afraid.

This is the pre-emptive strike. I make my request before giving God an opportunity to comment: “I know what is wrong. Please sort it out.” Not that I think I know what I need better than God does; rather, I fend off being vulnerable with God.

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A training day in Gloucester for spiritual directors

Where is God?
Where is God?

“Where is God in all this?”

I am running a training day tomorrow for spiritual directors entitled, “Where is God in all this?” It is being hosted by the Gloucestershire Ecumenical Community of Spiritual Directors (ECSD).

Here is the blurb:

“Where is God in all this?” is a question much-beloved of spiritual directors. However, if God is “in all things” then this question makes no sense. What is the purpose of this question? What are we really asking? What are better ways of addressing this? These questions get right to the heart of what spiritual direction is and what makes it different from other listening disciplines. This day will explore how we we might ask about God with those who come to talk with us.

The God we seek is here. As spiritual directors, our craft is to live this. On this day we will pray together, explore our notions of God, play with our craft, and seek courage to practise Presence.

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