Before the Ending of the Day Lent 3

Sudan Little Girl Image

Why should I try to be nurturing my relationship with God when there are six and half million people on the edge of death-by-famine?

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The Gatherer: Was there something I was supposed to do?

Untitled1A time comes when life is no longer about what we will achieve but what have done with our achievements.

Harold Kushner wrote a series of reflections on the experience of the Gatherer. He compares them to a point in our life when we move from asking: ‘what is the meaning of my life’ to ‘what will my life have meant’?

We might call this mid-life or the Second Journey but it comes with a haunting question:

Was there something else I was meant to do with my life whilst I was living it?

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The Gatherer: Coping with incompleteness

Untitled1If you have read this series I hope you will feel that I am a fan of Ecclesiastes. I discovered the book when I was training to be a minister. It was a companion through the first of a number of faith-crises. I am glad it is in the Bible. I am drawn by its pragmatic wisdom and hard-won faith in God.

But it leaves me with a longing and an ache. I follow where the Gatherer takes me but then have to say: this is all well and good. But I’m left wondering is there anymore to say?

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The Gatherer: The Mystery in the Muddle

Untitled1It is claimed by some people of faith that our reasoning powers need the gift of faith to meet head on life’s perplexities.

The Gatherer speaking from before scientific enquiry became the norm nevertheless respects and uses logic and the powers of a reasoning mind to explore life’s puzzling muddle. Yet, he is a person of faith. He does  not deny the existence of God. He just finds the divine’s participation in the muddle of life confusing.

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The Gatherer: ‘where’s God in all this?’

Untitled1I have a strange admiration for this Old Testament writer. He is so honest. He is so unwilling to rely on any answers but his own. He has a one word for this existence.

‘Vanity’

It describes what he has discovered in life. Life is full of futility. We believe that we understand then it is taken away from us. Anything that satisfies us does not last.

Life is all smoke and mirrors …

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The Gatherer: Inhabiting the times

imagesThere is a book in the bible that should be read within sight and sound of falling leaves. It is Ecclesiastes. It is a good book to read as gardeners try to tidy up the year – but never with complete success.

I think of it as a spiritual journal rather like Markings by Dag Hammarskjold. It is serious about God and the search for meaning in our life. It has been left behind by a seriously honest person. His thoughts are not very well organised. He can be repetitive, alarmingly truthful and mournful. He chose to live on the distant edges of belief.

We do not know the name of the author but he was a collector of experiences. He inhabits the times he is living through and gathers them into his rather cheerless search for purpose and meaning. He is the Gatherer …

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Don’t let the Fall get you down

imagesI enjoy autumn. It’s the colours of course, but also the cooling in the air and the change in the light.

There’s a hillside of trees near our home and showers of leaves cascade across the fields where squirrels dash in and out of the undergrowth and above lines of birds head south. Wonderful.

The Fall is starting.

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Prayer and Prophecy

signpost-517941__180In my last post I noted my sense of poignancy on learning that Kenneth Leech had died on the day Jeremy Corbyn was elected.

It seems to me a strange coincidence. I do not know whether they ever met. I do not expect that they would not entirely agree politically but they were, I think, likely to find agreement in their socialism and distaste for Capitalism.

For me Kenneth Leech was the voice of socialist challenge rooted in the catholic stream of the Anglican. His death marks the departure of a highly influential man from the second half of the last century. Carl McColman has written a fine In Memoriam.

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How do we let our faith shape and be shaped by the passage of time?

Richard Rohr is a Franciscan teacher and founder of the Centre for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. He has a worldwide ministry and is the author of numerous books. Many of them have strongly scriptural themes.

In recent years his attention has been drawn to the development of our inner discipleship. What is it that strengthens our convictions? How do we let our faith shape and be shaped by the passage of time?721057

Eager to Love is the summit of this output. He bases his material firmly in the life of his mentor Francis of Assisi.

Whilst its North American background is evident this is Rohr’s attempt to put down his own convictions. It would be a helpful summary for both new readers and others who have read his earlier material.

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And whose feet will you wash?

sofiyskiy_sobor_61_2The man with tired eyes lingers with his question hanging in the air. His friend continues to walk away and does not reply. His mind is made up. He seeks a purer life than can be found in the city. The desert beckons.

For a moment he closes his eyes, maybe he is in prayer and then stroking his long beard the man with the tired eyes turns indoors.

Later he would enshrine his question in a Rule for Christian living which he would offer his flock as their Bishop but for that moment it was part of a painful encounter.

I do not know whether it happened this way. Sara Maitland who introduced me to the question in her book A Book of Silence suggests that Basil, the man with the tired eyes asked the question in irritation as he watched another parishioner wander off into the wilderness. I do not know whether this was how he felt any more than she might but it is a powerful question.

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