I’ve many half-walked walks to complete. And almost-completed walks which, the end of the road in sight, have been snatched away in a sudden swooping swirling mist. Seemingly by vagary. But as I often say, I don’t believe in coincidence, luck, accident. Vagary.
There are many poetic constructions to describe work started but not finished.
It’s good, having all these fragments. Fragments from taking lines and colours and concepts for walks. They represent a lot of work on my creativity: books read, courses taken, techniques tried. Prayer.
Yes I pray. Before you unfriend me, it’s not normal praying. Not the on-your-knees, hands clasped (Durer-style) reciting of learned words. And my abnormal praying doesn’t happen very often. And I have to be honest – when I abnormally pray and pray abnormally, it’s usually about asking for something for myself. Occasionally (very) I pray for others.
The most effective kind of prayer I do (accepting the premise, at least in theory for the moment, that prayer can cause something to happen) – and I don’t know why I don’t do this all the time because it’s phenomenal, in my experience – is actually an act of not praying.
Sort of. I got the method from a book: the Science of Love. Now there’s an oxymoron for you, Science of Love. The book was written by William Johnston, an Irish Jesuit. He lived for more than 40 years in Japan and was Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Institute of Oriental Religions of Sophia University. Lectured worldwide on East-West Mysticism. The book’s a theology in the mystical tradition (this is written on the back of the book) and it’s trying to do for the 21st century what St John of the Cross did for the 16th and it was St John who coined the phrase: science of love. Johnston reckoned that modern Christian mysticism has to dialogue with and eastern religions and the book engages with Einstein and Zen Buddhism.,
The praying I do is related to Hesychasm. I learned. The history and practice of Hesychasm goes back to the fourth century CE and the early Christian church, the so-called Desert Fathers. It’s about a desire – yearning – for a direct experience with God through the repetition of the Jesus Prayer, whilst in an environment/state of stillness, rest, quiet, calmness (Hesychia). If this sounds like mantra chanting, well, the origin of the practise derives from the eastern mystic tradition. It’s based on Christ’s injunction, in the Gospel of Matthew, to go into your closet to pray: in other words, to retire into oneself.
Hesychasm has 5 characteristics, according to Johnston’s book. In the first, you’re trying to enter into a state of quiet. You’re not reading, reasoning, thinking, imagining. It’s about just being. (Without thinking about being). And when I talk about abnormal praying, all I’m talking about is this first stage. I’m talking about entering into a state of quiet where you’re doing nothing at all. Well not quite. You’re listening. Consciously. Deliberately. And not listening for. You might have an agenda, but you set it to one side. You might have an agenda, so you present it, without words and leave it at that. I generally do this when I’ve gone to bed – not sitting on the floor with my legs tied up in knots. And I generally fall asleep quite soon into the process. It doesn’t seem to matter. I might wake up in the night having been given a message or response. Or having had a significant dream. There have been more spectacular incidents. An asked for miracle.
I don’t understand this. I don’t understand the nature of the force that responds, but respond it does, to this mistrusting sceptic.
I’d never heard of The Light of Tabor until I wrote this blog. It reminded me of the first time I tried this kind of prayer. Well I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was in my early twenties. I said to an acquaintance very decidedly and genuinely in the faith that I didn’t understand faith. I didn’t understand how people could just decide to believe something as irrational as a god. He said that I should try speaking to God, ask him to reveal himself to me. So, that night, with scepticism, as I went to bed, I did just that. I expected nothing. I woke in the night. About 2 am. The light in my room was on. The ceiling light. It was a bare light bulb. There was nothing supernatural about this. I told my friend that I’d prayed for God to reveal himself, but that nothing had happened. I mentioned waking up however and the light bulb. Maybe that was something, he said. I was too young to be able to reflect on this. Not developed.
A bare light bulb is not exactly the Light of Tabor! A poor imitation. But in the end, enough to do the job, to light the way?
So the message is that 2013 should be a year of consolidation. I’ve picked up a short story I started in 2003 and have worked on periodically. I’ve not been able to finish it. It brings together two completely disparate events. For about 2 years I couldn’t figure out why they were connected. The writing of the story became the story of finding the story. And I couldn’t find it. The other day, a sentence came into my head that was the theme in a nutshell. I can now finish the story.
The leaf unfurls.
- Transcending Time & Space (worduncensored.wordpress.com)
- A Book of Sparks: review and Lent (yes, 38 days away) reading suggestion (trinitylewisham.com)
- Meditative Traditions in Christian Spirituality (lifebrook.wordpress.com)