We live in such exciting and demanding times, in which we are connected in so many unprecedented ways. Yet these very connections can add such speed and complexity to our lives that we can feel overwhelmed. Meister Eckhart rightly indeed commented in his own age that 'God is here. It is we who have gone out for a walk.' Today we are typically not just walking but traveling at hyper-speed, and multi-tasking at the same time! It is into this context that the revival of contemplative prayer speaks as a vital gift.
This week we begin a new opportunity for contemplative prayer by starting a Christian Meditation group (as part of the Australian Christian Meditation Community on the St Francis College Milton site. This will be at 5.45 pm on Wednesdays, in the Annexe of Old Bishopbourne - just across from the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and in the first building on the right hand side of the through road from the Baroona Road entrance (ring 0477 444 095 or 0488 333 169 if you would like to come along and would like more information or a friendly face to meet you!).
Asked for a prayer, poem or other contribution to greeting Penny at her commissioning service, I could do no better than turn to John O'Donohue's wonderful book of blessings To Bless the Space Between Us. It was a blessing for the space that is the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, and not only for Penny, and I, but also for those who have long found their spiritual home elsewhere (above all at Christ Church Milton). Especially at this time, as we come this week to the pain and promise of the fateful date of 26 January, it is also a blessing for all human beings and their ancestors who have come to Australia. It is a reminder of the 'big history' and mystery beyond us all.
May it be a blessing to all:
Before a human voice was ever heard here,
This place has known the respect of stone,
The friendship of the wind, always returning
With news of elsewhere, whispered in seed and
The thin symphonies of birdsong softening the silence,
The litanies of rain rearranging the air,
Cascades o sunlight opening and closing days,
And the glow of the moon gazing through
May all that elemental enrichment
Bless the foundation and standing of your home.
Before you came here, this place has nown
The wonder of children's eyes,
The hope of mornings in troubled hearts,
The tranquillity of twilight easing the night,
The drama of dreams under sleeping eyelids,
The generous disturbance of birth,
The anxieties of old age unclenching into grace
And the final elegance of calmly embraced death.
May the life of your new home enter
Into this inheritance of spirit.
May the rain fall kindly,
May daylight illuminate your hearts,
May the darkness never burden,
May those who dwell here in the unseen
Watch over your coming and going.
May your lives of love and promise
Refine and deepen the spirit of this land.
The day before my commissioning the light bulbs were changed in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit - a risky process with tall ladders reaching into every nook and cranny. As the power was switched on fresh light illuminated the beautiful stone work and brought brilliance to the central picture behind the altar, the scene of Christ's birth. Today is a kind of new birth for me and for our community, so this is an important picture to contemplate. Christ is born anew in each of us in every moment, enabling us to connect in fresh and creative ways with all that surrounds us. So as the fresh light of the Spirit brightens this day, may we trust ourselves to this new beginning.
(photo: Brisbane Sunrise by Sam Petherbridge, on Flickr)
Jo Inkpin, Penny Jones, Peter Jeffery, Ann Edwards, Elizabeth McConnell