Thursday, 31 March 2016


In the pause before we begin our intercessions I look around in the quietness and feel a surge of affection for my friends in the other pews. The one who polishes the brass and the one who pours the tea, the one who publishes the weekly newsletter and the one who runs the children's group, the one who leads the choir and the one who organises the food bank donations. Their prayer enfolds me.

image : Alice Christie

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

sighs too deep for words

Marc Chagall

Prayer is a precious way of communicating with God, it gladdens the soul and gives repose to its affections. You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words. It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God's grace. As Saint Paul says: we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.

Anyone who receives from the Lord the gift of this type of prayer possesses a richness that is not to be taken from him, a heavenly food filling up the soul. Once he has tasted this food, he is set alight by an eternal desire for the Lord, the fiercest of fires lighting up his soul.

St John Chrysostom (Homily 6 on Prayer)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

something understood

Stamner Church, Sussex
John Martin (1789-1854)

Prayer (I)

Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age,
                 God's breath in man returning to his birth,
                    The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
              The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth
   Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r,
                      Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
                  The six-days world transposing in an hour, 
          A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
             Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
         Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
         Heaven in ordinary, man well drest, 
 The milky way, the bird of Paradise,         
                                   Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
                 The land of spices; something understood.

George Herbert (1593–1633)

image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Monday, 28 March 2016

the inner journey

St Gregory the Great

...each of us is a kind of double person on a double journey.  The outer journey, the public journey, has to do with people and places and events, with doing and achieving. The inner, private journey has to do with a different kind of exploration, and it needs different words with which to describe it: words like faith and trust and wonder. Words like penitence and forgiveness and self-giving love. Words which have to do with that giving attention to God and to his world and to people that is the centre of all religious belief and practice.

Michael Mayne
Prayer (2011)

a collection of talks given by Michael Mayne,
at the annual ecumenical Day of Prayer,
Westminster Abbey(1996)

Sunday, 27 March 2016

the end of all our exploring

St. Mary's, Thorpe

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Little Gidding (V)
T.S. Eliot

image : Alice Christie