Recovery of Innocence

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.  Psalm 139.

Grace and Peace to you

Some weeks leave us feeling a little more frazzled than others. You know that feeling when the thread that you have been meaning to cut gets hooked on the splintered side of the kitchen chair and the entire hem is pulled out before you can stop it? Well it has been one of those unravelling kind of weeks for me. I guess we all have them from time to time.

When I am feeling more threadbare than usual I am often drawn (sometimes it feels like I am being pushed) back to the bare basics of my life and the fundamentals of my faith. I return to what I know I can trust to hold my weight, especially when it feels I can’t.

The most concise summary of what I have come to trust to hold my weight is called the Principle and Foundation from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius which is not too dissimilar to our annual Covenant Service. A number of years ago I had the privilege to be led through the Exercises (which I don’t have space to explain now) suffice to say that the Principle and Foundation is both the root and the fruit of the entire spiritual journey. Each retreat participant is encouraged to express the Principle and Foundation in their own words. So here is what I trust holds the weight of my life … and yours:

  • God has freely created humanity in love, by love and for love, yet also with the freedom not to love, and for this, God is to be joyfully praised and humbly served.
  • God created the entire universe as a good place to experience God’s love and to exercise our own love, all for the purpose of becoming who God has already designed us to be.
  • Hence, we should appreciate and make use of everything that sets us free from the fear to grow in love and rid ourselves of everything that is a hindrance to this.
  • Therefore, we must hold all things loosely and with open hands. Consequently, as far as we are concerned we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honour to dishonour, a long life to a short life, but rather rejoice in all things.
  • From now on, our one desire and choice should be to love Christ and know the power of his resurrection and share his sufferings, whether by life or by death.

Grace, Alan

Prayerful Preparation

O God, who am I now?
Once, I was secure
in familiar territory
in my sense of belonging
unquestioning of the norms of my culture
the assumptions built into my language the values shared by my society.

But now you have called me out and away from home
and I do not know where you are leading.
I am empty, unsure, uncomfortable.
I have only a beckoning star to follow

Journeying God,
pitch your tent with mine so that I may not become
deterred by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions
toward a wisdom not based on books
toward a strength not bolstered by might
toward a God not confined to heaven
but scandalously earthed, poor, unrecognised…

Help me to find myself
as I walk in others’ shoes.

~ Kate Compston


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