Monday, 25 August 2014

Prayers for Seekers

Maybe there is something in the air of late summer. In the turning of the leaves, the over-blowing of the flowers and the ripening fruit that creates a restlessness. In the excited gatherings of starlings across the telephone lines and skeins of geese pointing the way to pastures and waters new.

Maybe the light evenings give everyone, even those who work, the opportunity to clear the mind and notice a lacking, a calling, a mission.

Maybe the Spirit is more easily seen in the wide skies, rustling leaves and sparkling splashes of rivers in full spate.

Maybe it is simply an instinct from our early lives. When the new school year forced us out of cotton sandals, leaving the crisscross pattern of suntanned feet as a melancholy reminder under crisp white socks. And it was no longer acceptable for your hair to look as though you had been dragged through the hedge backwards.

There is a long liminal season between Lammas and Mabon - the celebration of high summer and the autumn equinox - that nudges us out of our Dog Days attitude. The fine summer will not last forever.

How we are to traverse the darkening days is something we need to consider and act upon. Perhaps a pilgrimage of the spirit is called for; a journey to a new depth of being. A calling to ministry or commitment to prayer. The 'perhaps' needs time and consideration. A time of 'ressourcement' - a return to what is authentic, a stripping away of habit and convenience.

Jesus would take this need to the desert, that was his ''otherworld'.  Advent and Lent can still be desert experiences for many. 
But why not here, in what the church calls Ordinary Time? Why not invite the desert to show us what is extraordinary within us?

This series of prayer poems and reflections have a rough sense of desert journeying as a focus for meditative prayer. I usually prefer to set the scene. When I am fortunate enough to be on retreat there will be some wilderness patch, cliff or beach. Standing stones and circles and, of course, labyrinths create a world to withdraw into. Otherwise, a garden shrine or table and a big cupful of silence - quality is not always about quantity.

They are in an order of sorts but feel free to be drawn one way or another.


The Lord calls,

'Come to me.

Leave the plains of ordinary times
The well worn paths of everyday
Leave the dry river beds
And relentless horizons
The daydreams
And mirages
Of life.

And come to me'

Desert brothers and sisters
Perhaps it is easier to find a place for oneself in the desert; with all its physical trials but without the temptations of the world. I will admit to sometimes finding the idea of solitude and the 'apartness' so very appealing.

How difficult it is to focus only on God, only on our soul travelling towards God when we live in the busyness and distractions of the Everyday.

This then becomes our challenge - to sacrifice the 'who we are' within the walls of the mundane - in the ordinariness of life - and to create within ourselves some 'desert' space to follow the yearning that leads us into the experience of God's loving presence and so find ourselves, at the end of the day, praying on our knees and with blessed souls.

The desert

I stand with my back to the world.

Its distractions and temptations fading away
Ahead the desert, a journey into peace
A journey into solitude

A journey to find meaning and understanding
In a world of confusion.

There is no confusion here
Life is precious and to be lived
The journey a test of strength
A trial of commitment to the Way.

What is the way?

Who is the way?

The God who was here first,
Tested and tempted

The God who remains now
His footprints in the sand

The God who is always
My oasis, my hope, my guide


There are a variety of understandings about levels of consciousness. There is the activity of the ‘what we are doing now’; reactive and proactive. The thinking that knows it is thinking. If we consider this then it seems to take up most of our time, being in the now. But the process of ‘being in the now’ on a conscious level requires access to multiple layers of what has gone before; all the basic skills of life; acquired information that allows us to interpret and forecast events, memories that tell us who and what we are; our relationship to the world. We may believe that this is all in the sub-conscious; as if this is an ocean of deep water with the oily consciousness
 floating above. 

To only have these two levels would making fishing for what we need somewhat difficult. I imagine consciousness as layers of different materials sometimes with defined edges, sometimes more fluid, a tidal place where there is always movement; more active at the surface where it is at the elements of the world around it; denser and more concentrated as the layers settle into the self. Silence is not just one layer in this environment. 

There are many layers, some just gentle buffers between one and the other, others a place of transition; others a place to be absorbed into the heart of Now.

Based on Psalm 46

I rest in the Sanctuary of the Lord

Knowing that God alone is my refuge.
I am deafened by the world’s demands
Overwhelmed by its rages and torments

The seas swell and the mountains quake
The uproar of mans greed echoes through the night
Angry voices call out for revenge
Broken hearts for rescue.

But not here

Here is a Holy Place
This, my refuge
Deep as a mountain pool
Hopeful as the dawn sun
The home of the Most High

Heart’s ease is here
Soul’s friend is here
Spirit’s food is here

My Lord and my God

The Lord speaks and the world melts away
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know
Be still


We make the choice to turn again; to become unworldly; to escape the expectations. We choose to accept what life truly means. We choose to deny ourselves the distractions that keep us from living an authentic life. If we take this denial seriously we accept some suffering rather than questioning the need for it; somehow we understand the need. That there is solidarity in suffering...solidarity with a God who chose to suffer to set us free; who, in some Kairos moment, continues to suffer and who needs us, in our freedom, to choose to walk beside him

See a clay bowl

See a clay bowl set into desert sand

newly fired and filled to the brim with water,
with life

A stone, plucked from desert ashes
is dropped into the bowl,
gonging it’s entry into sacred space

A shower of sparkling light leaps up
then falls
leaving dark tears on the sand.

Another stone.
a filmy amoeba moves eerily across the surface.

No longer perfect.

Tears rain
forced to flee 
by the will of the unthinking stone.

The fragility of the clay
weighed down by granite.
to move would be to break

The bowl sits – bereft

In the dark of beneath
water seeks a resting place
finds a cocoon of memory
an inheritance abandoned and forgotten.

The remembering seed drinks and climbs
fresh green fingers push sand aside and reaches up in joy.

Roots entangle clay 

Imperfect brings forth life.

I always imagine all pilgrims to be on the road to Emmaus - never quite sure that they will encounter the Divine - until they do.

The Blessing of Emmaus

Blessed be the path of the shoreline
Of thrift and cordgrass
The betwixt path of sea and sand
The path of waxing and waning

Blessed be the path of the meadow
Of wheatgrass and poppies
The tiller's path seeking a harvest
The path of the gatherer and the gleaner

Blessed be the path of the mountain
Of gentians and gorse
The goatherd's path of vision 
The path of precipice and ascent

Blessed be the path of the desert
of mallow and milkweed
The solitary's path of denial
The path of encounter and sacrifice

There are no wrong paths
only the path 
where you do not invite God
to walk beside you.

Blessed be


You are very welcome to use the ideas and prayers - though I would ask that they are acknowledged as  mairie gelling 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment