Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Watch out for those nuns . . .

Some years ago I went to the funeral of a dear friend. It was a Requiem in an English Cathedral and followed a straightforward Common Worship liturgy. The hymns were old standards, the homily forgettable, but the atmosphere was electrifying. I do not think that either before or since has the presence of the Fire of God been so tangible in worship and I was not the only one who noted this.

Why? Well, the only visible difference between this service and any of the thousands I have attended or led, was that the building was half full of nuns, women who were immersed as my friend had been, in the life of prayer. In the midst of grief, heavens doors were torn open by these praying women.

This Lent, I am reading 'Love Unknown', The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent book by another nun, the Carmelite, Ruth Burrows. Co-incidentally it was my friend who at what she took to be an appropriate time for me first introduced me to Ruth's writings, and I was blindsided. Expecting something 'nice and pastoral', I was exposed to a writing which challenged the very depths of my faith. Raw and uncompromising, her writings are at one time untypical of most books suggested at this season of the church's year, and also Exactly what is required. 'Love Unknown' is no exception.

Just take some time to dwell on a couple of brief excerpts.

Firstly her commentary on Jesus asleep in the stern of the boat in the midst of the storm and the disciples reproach of Him.

"Jesus deflates their high emotion with a reproach of his own. Why the panic? Where is your faith? Is he not saying, [she asks] "Does it matter if you go down if I am with you?"'

And secondly,
and worth meditating on a word at a time

"Our only real need is God"

Lent is a time for testing - for exposing the reality of our faith without bringing us to 'the time of trial'. We give time to setting other things aside, deliberately to face the question 'Is it God in whom I place all of my hope?' 'Is it true - is He all I need, do I Know this?'

No comments:

Post a Comment