Last evening at our Mindfulness class we were asked to consider and practise Mindful Wisdom. The ability to pause, step back, consider and get a bit of perspective before making a difficult decision.
A very long time ago, when I was 26 years old, I had a difficult decision to make. Did I become a chaplain in the Royal Navy, or did I accept the offer via 10 Downing Street, from HM the Queen, to become the youngest Rector in the Diocese of Manchester. I was struggling, both offers were appealing, both were something of an honour – how to proceed? I went to visit a wise old clerical friend for advice, for another perspective, but also to be helped to stand back from the situation, to pause and put a bit of distance between my thoughts and the decision I needed to make. One of the most troubling aspects of this decision making was how to discern the will of God, what did God want? How would I know his will for me? My wise friend smiled and asked “Normally, how do you know something is right?” I replied “I just get a feeling in the pit of my stomach.” Well he said “Have you ever considered that this just might be how God communicates decisions to you?” It was something of a revelation, instantly the cycle of ‘should I do this, or should I do that’ stopped. I chose to become the Rector of St John’s Longsight and have never regretted my decision. I even got invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, so I could go in my black Levi 501s – under my cassock of course and wander up to a politician I recognised and boldly say to him “I bet there’s only you and me who voted Labour here!” Oh the joys of youth.
God after all has a sense of humour.
Last week Father Simon and I joined a group of others from St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park in a Week of Guided Prayer, which we found fruitful.
I was reminded of this when I came across an extract from an article (shown below) about Etty Hillesum which describes how she gradually developed her relationship with God.
Etty Hillesum, who died in Auschwitz in 1943, and whose diary was published in a book titled “The Interrupted Life”, tells her story about her gradual discovery about where God resides. In her! She recalls being in Westerbork, which was a camp where 10,000 Jewish people were waiting to be taken away, and she says some incredible words. “It isn’t that I need God; God needs me!” She explains that God needs me to open my heart so that I can receive God into my being and then begin to radiate the presence of God which is the presence of peace, the presence of forgiveness, the presence of compassion.
I hope that some of you are following the Lent readings and reflections that are available at the back of church and are finding them helpful in your own prayer life.
With every blessing