Articles

This section contains essays on aspects of spirituality. This list will be added to progressively.

The essays are in pdf format, just click on the links below to read them or save the files on your computer.

 

 

 


Awe, wonder and thanksgiving

Some time ago as part of our Eco Spirituality programme, I spent a week with other people at Grindell's Hut, set in the Gammon Ranges in the north of South Australia. It looks across a wide, unspoilt and remote valley. Each morning in the stillness and silence of dawn, with coffee in hand, I would sit on the verandah and watch the colour come into the blackened landscape. It was so very beautiful, and the memory still enchants me. It was a moment of awe, wonder and thanksgiving. (download the full article as a pdf)

Living in a spiritual desert

 

Life seems to have been going fairly well for you in your relationship with God. You have taken this relationship seriously. Itʼs living and vital and you deeply desire to do Godʼs will, even if there are times when you struggle to know what that may be. Then one day you realise that He seems absent from your life. Itʼs as if you are living in a desert or in darkness. It may be that there is nothing that you can really point your finger at as to what has caused this or it may be that something has gone seriously wrong in your life, perhaps a marriage break-down, a serious health issue, a child in trouble with the law, or something else. And you find the words of the psalmist speaking directly to you: ʻMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me; why are you so far from helping me and from the words of my groaning?ʼ (Psalm 22.1). We think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and realise, ʻThis is my garden.ʼ (download the full article as a pdf)

Talking with God - the art of prayer
 

If asked, I think most people would say prayer was either a good thing or that at least it canʼt do any harm. Further, I suspect they would also see prayer as asking God for this or that or dealing with difficult situations, particularly in times of crisis. While I agree that prayer has an important role at such times, I would suggest that prayer goes much deeper than this and needs to be seen in a quite different way. (download the full article as a pdf)

Solitude

There are people who feel a calling to live the solitary life. In the Christian tradition they sense Godʼs call to live in this manner and after their vocation has been tested, it may be affirmed by the Church. It is never simply what the individual thinks, but always needs to be affirmed by the people of God, the Church. These people then live this life as a Solitary with the blessing of and on behalf of the Church. Thus, though they are physically separated from others, in reality they are never separated. They are there as a Solitary for the sake of the Church and for the sake of the world. Their life becomes one of prayer for the Church and the world. (download the full article as a pdf)

Silence

Silence is not a part of our world today. Many people seem to go out of their way to avoid it at all costs. They may wake to the sound of the radio and listen to it right up until they leave the house. The radio will be on in the car or they will be listening to their iPods or MP3 players as they ride in trams and buses. Some lifts and buildings have piped music playing in the background as the occupants go about their business. Then as people return home in the evening, they go through the process in reverse. There are television shows and later they will drift off to sleep with the radio on. Day after day this whole scenario will be endlessly repeated. (download the full article as a pdf)

Christian Meditation

The past forty years or so has seen a growing interest in things spiritual and this has been as true within the Christian Church as outside of it. There would be several reasons behind this and the upshot has been a proliferation of ideas, books and practices.
Some might think that Christian meditation is simply Christians ʻjumping on the band- waggonʼ of Eastern meditation. In fact this is not so and meditation has a long tradition within the Church though it has probably been largely confined to within the Religious and monastic movement. It is also true to say that until about the 1970s the methods of meditating in the Christian Church were very rigid and structured. Since then, with the busyness of peopleʼs lives, there has been a desire for more simplified methods and the rediscovery of a variety of ways of meditating to help people deepen their relationship with God. (download full article as a pdf)

 

Listening to God

Recently my wife and I travelled to Ireland for a conference and then holidayed in France for two weeks prior to heading for home. Apart from a handful of words, I do not speak French. But towards the end of our time there, my hearing became more acutely attuned to the language, so that at least I could separate and identify words. Initially I was simply hearing a tangled jumble and was therefore none the wiser. On one particular occasion we were standing at the railway station at Dijon, wanting to be certain that we were on the right platform to catch a train to Reims, a journey which would necessitate changing trains. We listened to an announcement about an arriving train and among the many words, picked out Metz' and knew we were in the right place. (download full article as a pdf)

Forgiveness

Some time ago a nun was murdered in Somalia in response to the Pope's comments on Islam. As she lay dying, she prayed that the perpetrators of the terrible crime committed against her, would be forgiven.
The inner struggle
What makes people forgive? It is not a natural reaction and is something with which we can struggle. Our first reaction when hurt or attacked in some way is to lash out. Even when we do not wish to behave in this way, nevertheless we still struggle. Think of those famous words of St. Paul: "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." (Romans 7.19) Eugene Peterson puts it memorably: "I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway." We can certainly identify with that! (download full article as a pdf)

It's about God ... not you

Totally dependent, small babies presume the world is there to serve them and their needs. Naturally, for their very survival, they need to use tears and their cuteness to have those needs met. If, at this stage, they could consciously reflect, it would be: "Of course you are just there to meet my needs! Why wouldn't you be! Life is about me!" (download the full article as a pdf)

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