Self-isolation, social distancing and staying home…

“Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.”

UK Government

Yesterday evening I, along with most of the UK population, received a text message stating the above. The night before, my partner and I, along with most of the nation, sat poised in front of the television to wait for the PM to address us…I do not think such an address has previously happened in my lifetime. As most people corresponding with me have begun, ‘these are strange times’.

It does feel really odd to have not been out of our house for 10 days since we began our isolation process. It is strange how much I look forward to the post, how the postie rings the bell, and then moves up the drive and waits, how even a hello and a wave as I pick up our post feels like a lovely interaction which makes me warm inside…how quickly the ‘new’ becomes ‘normal’

As an Anglican priest who has not been able to go out, to go to church, and will not be able to do so for the foreseeable, I also find myself wondering about the Archbishops’ statement: ‘Church is Changing’. Our bishops wrote to us to ask that we close our doors…doors which have been open for people to pray for centuries! It is at this point that we need to remember WE are the Church – the people of God are the body of Christ, the hands and feet of Jesus. This is a time to bring prayer back into our homes, into our everyday lives – #everydayprayer #everydayfaith #everydayaction – admittedly our action has a very limited reach at the moment. We can, though, pick up the phone; we can offer to get essentials for those who are unable to go out; and most of all, we can pray.

I am doing some research at the moment around Contemplative Prayer. I’ve interviewed a number of people who have used Contemplative Prayer in a group or service setting. I have been amazed by the number of people whose prayer lives have been transformed with the idea of sitting with a photograph and waiting on God.

I offer you this photograph, which for me communicates something of the concern around what is to come and the trepidation with which we face the unknown, and invite you to use it to S.Y.N.C. with God….

  1. STILLNESS: Begin by sitting comfortably, quietly and still. Close your eyes for a moment and focus on your breathing. Breathe in the Holy Spirit and breathe out anything which causes you anxiety.
  2. YIELD: When you feel a sense of calm, of God’s peace, open your eyes and look at this photograph as a whole. Allow yourself to gaze on it, and get lost in it, yield to where God leads your attention.
  3. NOTICE: Notice how you feel, don’t try to change it, just notice it and bring it before God. Notice where your attention has been drawn, perhaps to a small detail, colour, pattern in the photograph, or perhaps your attention has been taken to something completely away from the photograph – that’s fine, go with it! Sometimes God uses an image as a springboard to something else. In conversation with God, listen to God, and own your feelings in those moments. Is there an invitation from God within this dialogue? If so, what is your response? Continue in conversation with God until there are no more words and a sense of stillness returns. Move back to your breathing – breathe in the Holy Spirit and breathe out anything that still worries you.
  4. CONTEMPLATE: When you feel ready open your eyes again and look over the photograph once more as a whole. Think about all that God has revealed as you continue to breathe in the Holy Spirit and breathe out gratitude for what has been. Is there anything else from God? Be still in these moments of Holy ground….

When you are ready end your time of prayer with these, or other familiar words:

Glory to God, Source of all Being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever. AMEN.

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