Tag Archives: silence

6 August: Evening thoughts of a gardener





It is evening, and the time for the flowers to close their petals.
Give me leave to sit by your side, and bid my lips to do the work
that can be done in silence and in the dim light of stars.
(from “The Gardener” by Rabindranath Tagore)

I hope all have time to sit in silence under the stars this holiday time, before being driven indoors by the midges and mosquitoes!

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Going viral XLIV: being quiet with Rev Jo.

Every week  Bishop Rose and the three archdeacons for our diocese, along with other members of the senior team have invited us throughout lockdown to join them for a discussion, as to how things are going, with a theme each week – and today we focused on ‘safe places’ – places where we go where we feel safe, where we can be open to God – often in the quietness we hear that voice. For some it is sitting on a beach, or being in a garden or going on a walk; for others it is delving into a book – or a hobby in which we feel safe and secure. For many it is their homes, and very local environment, and the thought of venturing further afield, especially as lockdown eases is itself quite daunting; though one must remain ever mindful that with domestic abuse (and other abuse) the home has not always proven to be that safe place. My ‘bolt hole’ is the Quiet View at Kingston , somewhere where one can be still in the presence of the Lord; and it is important to identify these places – even during the course of the day, to have that Quiet Time. I use a free App: Pray as you Go – which has the gospel reading for the day, prayer and reflection, and is an excellent start to the day, but we are all different and God speaks to each and everyone of us in different ways.
St Thomas More: On Monday we would have had our service in St Dunstan’s Church for St Thomas More, but like so many other things, that wasn’t to be; however Rev. Brian McHenry, who is part of our St Thomas More Committee will be leading a short service 7.00 Monday evening,.
Medieval Pageant: This weekend was also going to have seen our Medieval Pageant pass through the streets, with the focus on Becket 2020 (so much was planned for this year!) However, the team who put it together are doing so virtually, and if interested please follow here: https://www.facebook.com/canterburymedievalpageant/

The weather vane on St Peter’s Church Canterbury shows his Cross Keys.

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June 24, Intergalactic Explorations XXXVI: I didn’t know I was bored.

This gull lives in Folkestone, near Margate.

There were not many humans or dogs about the gardens, so their favourite bench, warm in the noonday sun, was ready to receive them. No social distancing for dogs, though T felt there should be, No social chitchat either, as all three ate in silence, their morning’s conversation making them glad once again that they had joined the Expedition to Earth.

‘That was good!’ said T, fending off the gull who seemed to think the fish wrapper was his due. ‘And so is field-work, but we didn’t know that when we started. Why did you two decide to come down to earth?’

NASA Image

‘To be honest’, said Ajax, ‘I do believe I was bored. Not that I knew the word then. But there were no fish and chips, no smells to interpret, no Melba and Noreen. I didn’t know about love or joy but somehow I hoped to find them.’

Alfie was pensive; he had noticed another white hair on his muzzle when he looked into the mirror that morning. ‘I’m getting old, at least about the face. I hadn’t counted on that. Age and death we never gave a thought to; my emotions were almost non-existent. But the expedition sounded like a chance to get out of the pod, fill out a few spreadsheets whilst feeling the sun on my skin, even if it is covered in greasy short hair!’

‘You can have a bath anytime you like,’ suggested T. ‘The tidal pool is not too far away. I’ve a towel and trunks in my bag.’

‘We’ll guard the bag while you swim!’ protested the chihuahuas.

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13 June: Cathedrals of Silence I.

Eurostar leaving Saint Pancras Station

When Mrs T and I were visiting Germany and Poland, we had to change trains in Cologne. Since the Cathedral is right by the railway station and we had two hours to spare, our plan was easily made. And efficiently undermined by a delay on the Eurostar, which led to arriving in Berlin 6 hours late. Jerome K Jerome did visit the Cathedral between trains in 1890. You don’t have to agree with every word he says, any more than I do, but he has some insight into silence.

There is little to be said about a cathedral.  Except to the professional sightseer, one is very much like another.  Their beauty to me lies, not in the paintings and sculpture they give houseroom to, nor in the bones and bric-à-brac piled up in their cellars, but in themselves—their echoing vastness, their deep silence. Above the little homes of men, above the noisy teeming streets, they rise like some soft strain of perfect music, cleaving its way amid the jangle of discordant notes.  Here, where the voices of the world sound faint; here, where the city’s glamour comes not in, it is good to rest for a while—if only the pestering guides would leave one alone—and think.

There is much help in Silence.  From its touch we gain renewed life.  From contact with it we rise healed of our hurts and strengthened for the fight. Amid the babel of the schools we stand bewildered and affrighted.  Silence gives us peace and hope.  Silence teaches us no creed, only that God’s arms are around the universe.

How small and unimportant seem all our fretful troubles and ambitions when we stand with them in our hand before the great calm face of Silence!  We smile at them ourselves, and are ashamed.

From “Diary of a Pilgrimage” by Jerome K. Jerome.

To be continued tomorrow.

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9 June, Going Viral XXXIX: Marta, Martha!

Another extract from Rev Jo Richards’ daily updates. The Good Shepherd statue is in St Mildred’s Church, within her benefice.

Good morning to you all, and hope this finds you well, as we are here. 
With respect to the possibility of opening our church buildings for private prayer: thank you to those who have offered to help with cleaning, which  we will need to do, and continue to do as and when we do open.


Our reading this morning for morning prayer was that of Mary and Martha, and the phrase that leapt out at me when reading it was “Marta, Martha, you are worried and distracted by so many things; there is need for only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her”  Luke 10:41-2. This has certainly been a time for some, and by no means all, to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus, and listen, to be, rather than constantly doing. We can (and I for one) can so easily be distracted by so many things. We are after all, ‘human beings and not human doings’ (one of my favourite sayings of Richard Rhor). Today in our liturgy we have been asked to remember Saint Columba, of the Iona community, who founded monasteries both in Ireland, and on Iona, which to this day remains a place for pilgrimages and retreats. Please find attached some information regarding retreats from St Augustine’s College of theology, for retreats from home.
Morning Prayer:https://youtu.be/t8RPstCVxqE
Scams: Please be aware that there are scams around re track and trace (see attached, from Jeanie Armstrong), but please do be careful
God Bless you all, and keep connected, keep praying and keep safe
Jo🙏🙏🙏

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9 June; Of Syllables and Steps, Singing and Silence: II

chris-preaching

There is a moment of truth in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ when the latent emotions of the rude mechanicals’ play emerge to touch their audience at the wedding feast. At Mass there should be moments of truth. Despite the crooked translation, it is for ministers, to the best of their ability, to speak the words, to love the Word as though it were alive, as though they believe it, as though it were awesome; from ‘In the Name of the Father’ by way of ‘The Word of the Lord’, ‘Through your goodness’, ‘This is my Body’, ‘the Body of Christ’ (looking the communicant in the eye), to ‘Go in Peace’. A challenge, truly.

There are moments in liturgy as in life, when silence can and should be observed:

Let us not speak, for the love we bear one another —

Let us hold hands and look.”

She, such a very ordinary little woman;

He, such a thumping crook;

But both, for a moment, little lower than the angels

In the teashop’s ingle-nook.

John Betjeman, ‘In a Bath Teashop’

Silence can bring focus and awe: when I led Children’s Liturgy of the Word at the parish Mass I used to ask my ‘very ordinary’ child readers to count to ten in their heads to allow reflection between the bidding – let us ask God to …, and its prayer – Lord hear us.

Silence between the consecration and the acclamation; silence before inviting everyone to join in the Lord’s Prayer, silence after communion: these can inspire a sense of awe. All should participate in these silences, unlike the silence of the old rite with the priest mumbling prayers and not really silent at all, and the congregation praying the Rosary.

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8 June: Of Syllables and Steps, Singing and Silence: I

eastergarden (640x365)

My wife and I often sit together in silence, or work quietly in the garden together, unafraid of the absence of words. It’s the same when I am working at L’Arche Kent’s garden; most of the time we are all of us content just to get on with our tasks quietly. Gardening is a visual art, and like a good film, the action often proceeds in silence – especially the action of the Unseen Gardener.

For our wedding anniversary once we burrowed under the Channel to Lille, where patronal loyalty drew us to Mass at the Church of Saint Maurice. Silence was an effective part of the liturgy, as was that essential component of the motion picture, the movement of people. Blessed with a big church in a depopulated city centre, priests and congregation opened the Word in the nave before processing towards the altar after the homily.

Before the homily – silence.

For some minutes the priests joined the rest of us in contemplation before the preacher opened his lips. All were ready to listen. Silence had allowed us a period of reflection and, dare I say awe; a deeper hearing of the Word that was enhanced by the homily.

All this is a roundabout reflection on today’s Liturgy just before Corpus Christi. I am firmly in the camp that holds that the language at Mass, spoken and unspoken, should be readily understood by those present. Although mostly the priest is addressing God, there is no need for long or rare words – the Lord knows what we want to say even before we do. What can I give him, poor as I am? I can raise my heart and mind to him, but I often find myself deliberately switching the mind off, as the translation we have now is a stumbling block, inelegant, inharmonious; puzzling rather than enlightening.

And yet …

MMB

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17 May: Night Prayers and more.

A short while after he saw the swimming friars, George Borrow had to sleep at a riverside inn to catch the steamer en route to North Africa. There was not much room at the inn …

“I now laid my carpet bag on the bench as a pillow, and flung myself down.  I should have been asleep instantly, but he of the red nightcap now commenced snoring awfully, which brought to my mind that I had not yet commended myself to my friend and Redeemer: I therefore prayed, and then sank to repose. I was awakened more than once during the night by cats, and I believe rats, leaping upon my body.  At the last of these interruptions I arose, and looked at my watch; it was half-past three o’clock.  I opened the door and looked out; whereupon some fishermen entered clamouring for their morning draught: the old man was soon on his feet serving them.  One of the men said to me that, if I was going by the steamer, I had better order my things to the wharf without delay, as he had heard the vessel coming down the river.  I dispatched my luggage, and then demanded of the red nightcap what I owed him.  He replied “One real.”  These were the only two words which I heard proceed from his mouth: he was certainly addicted to silence, and perhaps to philosophy, neither of which are much practised in Andalusia. 

From George Borrow, 1843: The Bible in Spain; or, the journeys, adventures, and imprisonments of an Englishman, in an attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula. On Kindle or on line.

… At least the friars will have recited Compline together …

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Going Viral XXX: the rubbish Lorry says it’s Thursday

Good morning and hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory. One of the things I find difficult about this lockdown, is remembering what day it is! Those of you watching Morning Prayer know where I am coming from…is it Wednesday or Thursday, and then the reassuring sound of the  rubbish Lorry (thank you keyworkers) alerted me to the fact that it’s Thursday – but what does differentiate our days? 

Several people have mentioned that this rhythm of prayer (Morning Prayer & Compline), work (paid work or clearing cupboards/gardening), exercise, and rest is very monastic, and something that I have reflected on myself. Last night I caught up with a friend of mine, a sister in a closed convent, and we chatted on Zoom (yes is possible), and how this rhythm to our days was not that dissimilar to their way of life.

May years ago I was introduced to something called Rhythm of life, how each day one should have a quiet time, each week a quiet time (Sabbath), every month maybe a quiet day, every year maybe a retreat – and what this feels like at the moment is a global ‘retreat’, everything has been paused – a chance of reflection, of asking some of the bigger questions, of giving our planet that opportunity to breathe….of action and contemplation. That rhythm of alternating between meeting with God in the quiet place, and then the meeting of God in the busyness of the market place.

Rev Jo Richards, Rector, Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury.

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Going viral XXVII: walking in the rain

It was the first rainy day for weeks; in two hours of walking on paths that had been busy by viral standards last time we walked them, I scarcely met a score of fellow walkers. It was a few degrees cooler than the preceding days, and wet. As I reached Blean church, big heavy drops drove me under the yews; I began looking for passion flower carvings without success but enjoyed seeing the lichen again and these bluebells of different colours.

Many times have I cycled past here, usually going to or from work, but never noticed these, partly because the church is at the top of a hill and all my attention would have been on completing the climb. Since it was the virus that drove me out here on foot, this is a going viral post, Stay safe, let your heart be unconfined!

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