Day 34 – the end?

Today is my last full day of the “experiment”. What have I learned? That nothing is certain and sometimes I just have to leap in. I can plan, and read, and write. I can wait until I am sure. But in the end, I simply need to leap into the arms of Jesus!

This “experiment” has given me a framework. It has given me “firsthand experience”. In a context that is extremely comfortable! To be honest, I think the last five weeks have been so beyond magnificent that I can hardly believe that I have lived alone for that long. I see everything with new eyes, especially when I return to the faith community that nurtures me. I have a much stronger sense of who I am and I have no need to pretend.

So, I would like to make this “experiment” more permanent. Yes, I have a vocation to the solitary life. And, yes, I have a vocation to “sharing” that life with others. I am not sure what that will look like or if it will include “vows”.

I got some chocolate today at the shops to celebrate these five weeks. I am sad to go but I am very excited for tomorrow.

Day 33 – seriously?

Normal day! I think I am really going to struggle next week when it is back to the “world”.

I have been moved by two Thomas Merton quotes:

À contemplative is not one who takes his prayer seriously, but one who takes God seriously, who is famished for truth, who seeks to live in generous simplicity, in the spirit.

Yes! It is not about solitude, silence, prayer, or meditation. It is about Jesus! Taking him seriously is the point. And all is gift!

I should add, not only for those who live a monastic/religious/vowed life – for all!

Hence monastic prayer, especially meditation and contemplative prayer, is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him whom we have found, who loves us, who is near to us, who comes to us to draw us to himself.

Rest versus action – that is the tension of the anchorite life. Simply resting in God, being present for him, and riding the wave.

Day 32 – future?

I slept past my alarm! That is the first time during this “experiment”. So I missed the sun rise this morning.

Prayer and meditation! I have struggled with meditation for the last couple of days – my head is all over the place. I have been thinking a lot about the future.

I have been reading a book about Fr Hope Patten. It is so Anglican! I love the “catholic heritage” of Anglicanism. The book often gives me a “laugh out loud” moment.

Jesus be with you!

Day 31 – accountability?

Normal start to the day. I am going to miss this time of silence and solitude to pray.

Yesterday I was reading about “vows” from an Anglican religious perspective. The author made the point that it includes “accountability”. In the anchorite tradition this is through a confessor. In a modern context it is through the ministry of a spiritual director and the bishop.

All the anchorite guidance literature speaks at length about confession and penance. While it speaks of the sacrament, and the obedience due to the priest, it is speaking about being accountable to someone for your actions. Yes, in the end that is God. But I am answerable now to the people into who’s care God has placed me.

So I have been thinking about the ministry of a confessor and spiritual director. They need not be the same person and there is no need to make their ministry into a fetish. (I think the ministry of the confessor in the medieval literature is a fetish – blind obedience with mechanical impassive use of the sacrament grace.)

Anyway, I have been thinking about that this morning. Jesus be with you!

Day 30

A very different start to the day. I slept in! I allowed by alarm to wake me and then I took my time getting up. I wish I could say I did some praying and meditating but I looked at my social media and read the headlines in the paper.

I had a good prayer time and some interesting insights during my meditation. I need to think about my future and what shape it will take. I have some ideas but I am not sure they are God’s. But that will work itself out in time. Or not, which makes no difference at all.

My normal streamed Mass did not happen this morning. So I watched Mass from a London “shrine church”. Since I have returned to the Bible Study, I find it harder to listen to sermons. It is not my context, nor my life, but sometimes I wonder if the preacher has done any work on the text. In case you have not guessed, I dislike platitudes. Where is the challenge? Where is the call to action?

I have been reading an article in the book, Anglican Religious Life: A well kept secret. It is a take on vows that I really like – or maybe, with which I identify. Vows linked to love and as a public expression of love. A working out of relationship!

So there you go! Way too much information. The routine of the day has given me freedom to let my mind and heart soar.

May Jesus bless you today!

Day 29

I had the worst sleep I have had in years last night. I had nightmares most of the night – screaming people with lots of tension. So I got up before my alarm, said good morning to the car, prayed, and meditated. I did not have time for a streamed Mass today as I had an appointment.

When I check my email this morning I had a nice surprise. My past is working itself out. And in the process the future is becoming clearer. So I went to my appointment with a much brighter world-view.

I found some books today that I have been looking for. One is about Anglican religious life, a few collected works, and a couple prayer books.

I am extremely tired at the moment but I will battle through this afternoon.

Day 28 – vocation?

I am writing in the evening, after Evening Prayer, as the day has super packed with “stuff”. I started as usual with feeding the cat, prayer, and meditation. We had church online today – too many people effected by Covid – so I could do it from home.

Church today was God’s answer to a number of questions. The sermon asked one simple question, “Where is your focus?”. Oh wow!!! And then we had this song:

So where is my focus? I know where I would like my focus to be. I am resolved to be open to Jesus in all contexts. I am resolved to seek intimacy with Jesus above all else. And I think that I am called to a life alone, praying and meditating, and reading. I also think that I am called to write or use my life alone for the “upbuilding of the church”. What all of that looks like I do not know!!!

So the time of this experiment is almost up. I am really sad about returning to my normal life. I would simply like to continue. God will provide a way. And this time has been pure gift!!!

things eternal

O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;

grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Common Worship

I wanted to share the above collect from Common Worship – the collect for this last week. Every day I have been struck by the line: “we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not our hold on things eternal“. It is the struggle of all followers of Jesus: to live in this world without being part of this world.

I think theologians have tried to bring balance to this paradox in various ways. But in the end both are gifts from God: the temporal and the eternal. The call is to see the eternal in the temporal and thereby bring the temporal into the eternal.

I like Common Worship more everyday.

Day 27 – freedom?

Today is an important day. But, as is now traditional, it will pass in solitude and quiet. I did my usual things this morning: feed the cat, pray, and meditate. I had to get some items ready for church tomorrow. But before that I did another Covid test – still negative.

I have been thinking a lot of freedom. Freedom is a necessity for love. With out free choice there is no love for the other. So freedom, in what ever form it comes, is about the ability to chose another. Or, freedom to love.

I think the modern idea is the opposite: freedom from responsibility. There is a sense that freedom is the human right to “do what you want” and thereby making it right. When I cannot do what I want, I am no longer free – I am enslaved. Freedom does not, however, remove the consequences, nor the responsibility for my actions.

I am not sure I have a real understanding of freedom yet. I think there is a sense in which the anchorite life, especially in the anchorite guidance literature, is all about being free for Jesus. Removing the temporal to focus on the eternal. The anchorite of old knows they are on the threshold but their focus is on the eternal Word. So it is freedom to be present now with Jesus.

Anyway, what would I know!