Awwww it’s the most beautiful day here in sunny Milton Keynes, UK. The kind of lovely day that I’d like to wrap up in pretty paper and send to you all so you can share it.
I make no apology for banging on about prayer in my last two posts, it’s something I feel I need to, ‘get down on paper’ if you follow me. Sometimes you just need to write things down to make them stick.
I went to the taster session on Tuesday evening, as a forerunner to our, ‘Week of Guided Prayer’ which starts in June. It was all I knew it would be and much more. I signed up then and there and paid the small donation. I came all home full of anticipation for what I’m thinking will be a wonderful week. It’s certainly a fabulous opportunity, a bit like being on an individually guided retreat but at home. Perfect!
I found myself craving that silent, peaceful place that a retreat provides. It isn’t necessarily a ‘real’ place, more a state of mind really. A silence that comes from within so that, even in a busy street, you can be silent and still on the inside. Since giving up work in December I’ve created a lot more silence in my daily life. I’d always been a Radio 2 kind of girl, a constant murmur of background chatter and music; but of late even that has been turned off.
I watched, ‘The Big Silence’ [further reading] yesterday to remind myself what it’s all about and how difficult it can be for some people to just settle into the silence. That was me a few years ago, struggling to be at peace without a TV or radio to fill in the blanks, now I crave that silent time because I know that God is there in the silence.
We’re using a book called, ‘Patterns of Prayer’ by Eugene McCaffrey, OCD at the Carmelite contemplative prayer group that’s just started in my parish. It’s the most wonderful little book, the kind of book that makes you want to read each page over and over to soak in all that it has to say. It speaks to me on so many levels. Anyway, I wanted to share a small part of it with you as it’s relevant to this post and Eugene puts it so much better than I can:~
Silence is an essential condition for listening. Prayer is born in silence, a still receptive silence that enables one to hear the deep vibrations of the spirit. Silence is our way of helping God so that he can help us. We try to be still, conscious of our own poverty and of our own need to hear and to receive. Silence is much more than an absence of words or noise, much more even than just being quiet. Rather, it is a response to our whole being reaching out to grasp the word of life. It is an alert and attentive receptiveness to “hear the word of God and obey it” [Luke 11:28]. Like the boy Samuel, we cry out with our whole heart, “Speak, for your servant is listening” [1Samuel 3:10]. pp28-29
Earlier in the book it says that it takes two to pray [p26] and I think we often forget that. We are not alone in that moment, God is with us, always. But we need to listen and in order to hear Him we need to be silent. As Fr Christopher Jamison says in, ‘The Big Silence’, “Silence is the gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God”.
Peace and blessings