a review and an invitation
In September 2010, I started on an 8-week, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) class. My father had died on Easter Day, I was struggling to hold it together as a hospital chaplain, and, though I was blind to it then, my marriage was about to end. I had long wanted to do one of these courses since dipping into Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living, but when I signed up for it two months earlier, I had not anticipated that this course would frame the nexus of disintegration that brought 2010 to an end.
As a counter to the turmoil depicted in my last piece, I have painted a view of Godrevy lighthouse and beach on a beautiful calm day. It is a very spacious beach, about three miles long, and the tide goes out a long way, revealing golden wet sands that reflect the sky and landscape. It all invites me to stop, and be…to ‘Breathe Peace’ in my body, mind and soul.
I use the Insight Timer app every day to support my own prayer practice and discipline. I highly recommend it. I have begun putting my own guided prayers on this platform to add a contemplative Christian presence. I’m chuffed to bits to learn that my Prayer for sleep is being featured on Insight Timer today. You can find it here.
I wrote a short piece for the London Centre for Spiritual Direction‘s May newsletter. Then a few days later I was invited to give a reflection at a Holy Communion Service on Zoom. I used the original piece as a springboard to engage with the scripture. Here is the delivered product.
This time of plague is a desolation for many: loss of work, loss of income, loss of health, loss of life; traumatic, dangerous front-line work; and decimated support services. Those of us not so endangered still suffer desolation. There is overwhelming uncertainty: where will we be next year, or next week!? How are we to live now? What is God’s call now?
In these times I have been painting in my studio images inspired by the lighthouses of Cornwall. Each painting also reflects something of my prayers and my faith – encountering the dynamic presence of God in the world around us.
I have several on the go, but thought I’d share here the first one I have completed. Here it is on my easel – to give a sense of the scale. It’s 40 x 54 inches.
There ain’t no good thing ever diesTom Waits: Take It With Me
I’m gonna take it with me when I go
I have often talked about ‘repetition’, as Ignatius of Loyola calls it, in these writings, e.g. “Where to start?“, “The Kingdom of Heaven“, and “Repetition“. He invites us to revisit significant moments, “noting and dwelling upon the points where I have felt greater consolation or desolation or greater spiritual relish.”  When we do this, we become infused with the graces and insights given to us. This changes us. This is conversion, incrementally, daily.
Christ is risen.
This is my third offering of recorded prayer. It is a version from the post, “The only 3 prayers you need,” in which I suggested that presence, gratitude, and kindness comprise the three important prayers.
Last week’s morning guided prayer attracted about 30 people. I am going to continue to lead 30 minutes of guided prayer every Wednesday morning while we are in coronavirus lockdown. You can find details of this and other opportunities for prayer here: https://mailchi.mp/7865c2b9704a/prayer-in-a-time-of-plague-4863233.
With my prayers,