What does being still mean?
Just returned from the Methodist Diaconal student conference in Leeds. It’s a time, with thanks to the generosity from the Diaconal Order, that the newly accepted students, the students mid way through their training and those about to be stationed (sent) in their new posts across the country, can come together as one community.
It allows us to know that every one is supporting each other, in prayer and in love.
We eat together. We pray and worship together. We learn from each other. We had 3 focal points this weekend to consider and reflect upon:
- Being Alone, entitled Cloister
- Being in Community
- Offering radical hospitality
I would like here to focus this blog post on that first issue, being alone.
In the Gospel of Luke this weekend we were asked to ponder the time when Jesus came upon the house where Mary & Martha resided. Jesus ate in that house and purportedly was having a good time. Martha was busying herself around the house with those much-needed chores such as preparing and serving the food. Mary was however sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening. What was Mary doing? Didn’t she know the protocols?
On many occasions when I have heard this story discussed in Church I have heard the rebuke directed at Martha but now here Jesus’ loving voice, not chiding Martha, but encouraging her to just stop and listen.
We also heard a story from one of the Deacons, where one person was asking God where they could find time to be with Him. They had so much to do, so many errands to fulfil that day, that morning. They wondered how they could be asked to stop in the kitchen: how could this be ‘Holy Ground’ amidst the dishes and soap suds? But God is there, has always been there, has actually been waiting for you.
But we can’t stop. Jobs to do!
But we can.
We can look out of the window and see God in action with nature. Visually God has been, and is, everywhere – we just need to look. As we walk to work, on the bus, at the office, we can see God in others, in the love they have for others.
We can take time to feel God’s world – to marvel at our sense of touch. I have been taken aback by the gift of 5 glass marbles.
No, I haven’t (yet) lost my marbles.
The white marble (top centre) signifies God: pure. As I hold it I can praise God for what He has done, how he walks with us and will be with us always.
The red marble signifies the embarrassment we feel as we acknowledge our mistakes, how we haven’t lived our lives as God intended. We receive his forgiveness.
The green marble represents the Earth and all that is on it: how we can then pray for those we meet and that the resources contained on (and in) the Earth may be used wisely.
The blue (navy) marble is for the Diaconal Order, my brothers and sisters, with whom we pray for each other each day. This could respresent your work colleagues and/or your family.
Lastly the transparent marble represents us, as we go out to serve God and to love unconditionally.
I could use just colours but to hold the marble allows my hands to press and rotate the marble, feeling the surface as I pray. It’s a tangible reminder to pray for all.
A candle can offer up some odour which will permeate the air. Smell does some amazing things with our memories, capturing past events with such clarity.
I am really liking Taize more and more now. Even choral music is great – what is happening to me! OK Matt Redman is still cool. It helps to sing – Methodist’s like to sing – to offer our praise to God.
Ah Chocolate. Why not experiment with taste. I do with the bread machine. What ingredients can you use? I have tried soft cheese, cinnamon, Glace cherries, chocolate drops, mixed fruit, raisins, ginger, mixed herbs – not all at the same time – it’s great. The kitchen is alive with the aroma and occasionally the desire to eat another slice or hunk.
To stop and allow God to enter your life is wonderful – liberating. I wonder if in our lives we are so determined to answer that next email, check on the delivery schedule from Amazon (alternative providers do actually exist), or watch the next episode of Corrie (soon to be on 6 times a week) that we can forget to stop and listen to God.
The Monks have done this for centuries. Priests were originally asked to say their prayers 7 times a day, the offices, but now the Church of England clergy do so twice a day: morning and evening. The vast majority of us are not called to such posts but…
We can still take those moments out in our day and ‘Be Still and know that’ God is with us: at the kitchen sink, at the desk, on the bus, wherever.