“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18 NRSV
At the beginning of August I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a Monday to Friday on retreat on the Sunshine Coast. It was in a beautiful setting, despite the descent of the smoke from the dreadful wildfires in the Interior: a former Orthodox monastery built on a wooded slope overlooking Howe Sound. Main meals were provided by and shared with my generous hosts; after dinner I walked with them and their dogs down to the shore before we said Compline together. The rest of the time I spent in silence, for once disciplined in switching off the email and the phone. There was space to pray Morning and Evening Prayer reflectively; to read – a novel, Julian Barnes’ The Noise of Time, and a spirituality book, Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing, each recommended to me by a member of St. James’ and both worthwhile; to walk up to a lookout (ringing a bell first to ward off the neighbourhood bear and cougar!); and, above all, to be still, to wait upon God.
I am thankful to God and my hosts for a restful and restorative time, and for many graces received. It is remarkable, however, how quickly general busy-ness has taken over on my return, even in August. I am reminded even more how essential, and how difficult, it is to find a regular time each day to be still and open to God. The routine of Morning and Evening Prayer, together with the Mass, gives a framework to the day, but it is so easy for that necessary time of focused stillness to be crowded out by cares and concerns, or interrupted by seemingly more urgent demands. It is that need of self-discipline again!
I know there are many in St. James’ who do find time to be still and to pray, for whose prayers and example I am grateful. I would be interested to hear from any who would value coming together for a shared time of silent prayer, initially perhaps once a month. One possible time would be 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon, concluding with Evening Prayer at 5 pm.
Writing on this theme also gives me the opportunity to highlight the importance of sustaining the public celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer daily at St. James’: the small group which takes responsibility for this ministry would value new members. Please see Deacon Joyce or another of the clergy if you are interested.