Another excellent day was experienced by ten of us at Winbourne in Mulgoa yesterday for what was our third Quiet Day, which we’re now going to be calling "Breathing Space".
As we’ve been doing, we’re using some "ancient words" reworked into a contemporary form of liturgy, corporately declaring some of the great creeds, praying the Lord’s Prayer (or Our Father), the litany of repentance and even parts of Patrick’s Breastplate.
Why are we doing this? If you remember, the Lord spoke to me through Jeremiah 6:16 about six months ago, in response to my question about why I was being led to explore a reconnection to the ancient nature of our Christian faith:
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
We’re discovering two things. Firstly, that there is an incredible amount of "oil" on these ancient prayers and practices for the 21st Century, and secondly, in accordance with the Wind Farm vision, the wind of the Spirit seems to be blowing stronger from this direction than any other at this time.
The practices of using the "monastic prayer book", that is, praying the Book of Psalms; pubicly reading and humbly listening to Old and New Testment Scriptures; and praying some of the great prayers of the church, all coupled with times of intentional silence designed to posture us to listen to Heaven in order to hear the voice of our Great Shepherd; these things are having a profound effect on those who attend.
I am a Protestant. Therefore, there are some ancient church prayers and practices which I have never experienced because they have been outside my tradition. Prayers like the Angelus begin safely then swing widely outside my theology. Therefore, they are prayers I cannot embrace in good conscience.
In that vein, one of the practices I thought I would never bother with was the ancient tradition of the Stations of the Cross. However, over recent weeks, God gave me some insight as to how, through some simple tweaking, this could be a very special experience for all concerned .. and it was.
I bought a book, now long out of print, called "A New Way of the Cross", written by a Trappist monk, Father M. Raymond from the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky, home of Thomas Merton, and illustrated in the most striking fashion by John Andrews.
Using those images coupled with some reworked meditations, for the first time, many of us experienced what our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters have known for centuries; that there is power in actually walking, imagining and meditating on Christ’s great sacrifice that bought us freedom from sin and eternal life. It is one of the images used that you see on this post.
For me personally, yesterday was a very "pastoral" kind of day, with a number of the folks wanting to discretely and appropriately break silence to talk over issues that God may have been working them through. We’re not talking intense counselling, but times of spiritual direction and mutual sharing seem to be organically arising .. and I am very glad .. because this is an indicator that some kind of community is naturally beginning to form.
Breathing Space. We all need it. Our lives are busier than ever and, if some are practically unable to reorder their days to embrace a more rhythmic lifestyle, then the very least we can do is come together for one day a month simply to breath the clear air of Heaven.
Please, mark your calendar. You’re invited to join us.