Sunday, 28 February 2010

Making Time - The Second Sunday in Lent

At the end of another busy week, with a sermon still to write, I am challenged by the need to carve out particular time for being with God. To ponder and pray. Yes, I can practise the presence of God in between times but if the church is given so many hours a week I need to give God some too.

Brother Lawrence wrote some good guidance for these times:

  • Persevere, despite the difficulties and the fact that it feels like you are wasting your time;
  • As much as you are able, keep yourself apart, with God at the centre of your soul;
  • Don't talk too much when you are praying - talking often signifies that your thoughts are wandering;
  • Come before God as though you are someone in need;
  • Focus your attention on God and on him alone;
  • Don't worry about wandering thoughts, just call your mind back quietly and gently.

I have never really had a favourite place to sit before, but now have a chair, looking out over the garden. For me it seems easier to pray and reflect if there is space around - either an horizon, or view - and silence. I used to enjoy spending time locked in an empty church, however don't now have the privilege of any holy keys. It's more about taking the opportunities that come - a quiet house when my secretary is on holiday, striking a day out in the diary for quiet and reading and enjoying a friend's hospitality or having a lone walk by the sea whilst on holiday.

I can look back at my life and see how such times have refreshed me. I learnt this in my twenties when I left the familiar surroundings of Essex to spend two years working on an East Hull housing estate. It was a most challenging time emotionally and spiritually as I sought to make connections between church and people and to make sense of God in it all. On a day off I would drive to the sea - usually Hornsea - and walk along the beach trying to make sense of my experiences. I now give thanks for that time in Hull and how my own limited understanding of God broadened and deepened during those two important years. Making space for God is no longer an option - it is one of the essentials of life.

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