For some time now, Shirley and I had set aside last weekend as a time to be quiet before God. Somehow life seems to crowd out such times to the point where I need to book them way in advance to make sure they happen. But when they do happen, they’re so good.
We took it easy in the morning , and then headed up to Douai Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery just to the south west of Reading. After a nice little picnic, we spent 3 hours or so just praying, listening and reading in the beautiful abbey church.
My times visiting abbeys and cathedrals over the past ten years have taught me that its often good to go into such times with no agenda, and last weekend was just one of those times. As I struggle to keep up with daily bible readings, try to be Jesus to those around me, and generally live a Christ centred life, I’m so conscious of how I need to connect with God in all things, to been in constant communication, living in His strength and direction, as my own is so woefully inadequate.
I’ve been re-reading ‘Meeting Emma’ by Michael Spyker. Its a great book, chronicling a fictional set of meetings between a lecturer and an art student, where the lecturer encourages the student to revisit her faith, and to seek greater understanding of her relationship with God. Starting with identity and meaning, the two visit many aspects of prayer, contemplation and meditation, and discuss their relevance and practice. I’m back in the early stages of the book, and the study notes were encouraging me to think about my identity, how it had been formed, and what God thinks about me. The words of St John of the Cross were included:
How gently and lovingly
you wake my heart
where in secret you dwell alone.
So, this weekend, I was just sitting before Jesus. We didn’t talk much, but we spent time with each other. It was good to be spending time with my old friend.