25.11.22: Silence

Context: The days tend to blur into one with Covid, but there are signs of improvement. Yesterday, my husband made bread, we gratefully received our second batch of online grocery shopping, and I walked about 5o yards down the road, which was as much as I could manage. There was no traffic, and the light, waves and gulls gave a strange, dream-like quality to being out of doors. Afterwards, I was so tired that I fell asleep repeatedly.

Be silent before the Lord (Zechariah 2:13; NLT).

In the silence of my mind,
I praise you, Lord,
Who sets me free.

In the stillness of my heart,
I worship you
Continually.

In the darkness of my soul,
I seek your face
Unceasingly.

In the dying of my flesh,
I thirst
For your eternity.

I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain (Psalm 143:6; NLT).

I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:2; NLT).


Rosary news:

Following help I was given on Wednesday by a religious Sister, I made my first rosary with a centrepiece, which proved to be a game-changer. It’s holding together so far, with cautious, gentle handling:

18.11.22: Commitment

Context: Yesterday I was able to pray silently for a while, which has been impossible since I became ill with Covid.

The day before I had felt very sad not to have died, but yesterday I saw that as long as God wants me to live, I will live, however exhausted I am, and that when God wants me to die, I will die. So now my only aim is to say, “Yes” to God, and to give thanks for everything God sends. Whether I live or die, I want to embrace God’s will completely.

As part of this realisation, some verses swiftly arrived to crystallise my thinking. Today’s blog owes a great deal to a special prayer I say every day. It’s used by the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham, and is quoted in full below the references.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).

Lord,

Forgive my sins,
Though they are many,
As I forgive the people
Who’ve hurt me.

I’m ready now to live, Lord,
At your pleasure;
I’m ready, now, to die,
When you decree.

No matter what you send
May I give thanks, Lord;
No matter what you take
May I say, Yes –

Today, and every hour,
And every moment,
With steadfast faith, hope, love,
And humbleness.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6; NIV).


References

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10; RSV).

The LORD gives both death and life (1 Samuel 2:6; NLT).

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

Put on mercy, kindness, gentleness, humbleness of mind, meekness [and] patience (Colossians 3:12; LB).

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isaiah 26:3; NIV).

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13; NLT).


COLW prayer:

O Mary, teach us always
To say YES to the Lord,
Every moment of our life.

O Mary, teach us always
To give THANKS to the Lord,
Every moment of our life.

(Page 17, Community of Our Lady of Walsingham Prayer Book, Verbum Publications, 2019).

29.10.22: Come to help us

Context: Still exhausted, after an incredibly draining hospital trip to London, all I can do is rest as much as possible, and ask for help to pray:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT). 

The Spirit, too, comes to help us in our weakness. For we don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit expresses our plea with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; TIB).

Holy Spirit,
Come to help me:
Intercede for me,
And sigh.

Holy Spirit,
Pray for others:
Plead on their behalf,
And cry.

Holy Spirit,
Weep within us all:
Don’t cease
Until we die.

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

20.10.22: God’s will


Context:
Yesterday I went into town to do a small amount of shopping and have my covid booster. It was diverting at the time, but afterwards I was absolutely exhausted. It can still sometimes come as a shock to realise how limited I am now in terms of what I can do.

After a long sleep in the afternoon, I tried to work on what I had been given when I woke up that morning. However, I was too tired to make any progress with it. So here is a prayer from my storehouse, instead:

“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36; NLT).

You came to do the Father’s will
Because you trusted in God’s name.

You wanted to forgive my sins,
To heal my guilt, and end my shame.

So, Lord, you lived and died for me,
Because you shared the Father’s aim:

To spread his love and tender care –
Please help me, now, to do the same.

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same” (Luke 10:36-7; NLT).

10.10.22: Safe

Context: The day before yesterday, whilst praying, I was given a group of phrases to reflect on. There were too many to list them all here, so I’ve chosen just those which turned out to be most relevant to today:

The garden of God
The river of God
The glory of God
The presence of God
The mercy of God
The power of God
The darkness of God
The Spirit of God

I had no idea how to use this list in a blog, so thought no more about it after writing it down.

Next morning I looked at the list again, but was still no wiser about its purpose.

However, when I was praying, I saw that there is no need to worry when inspiration doesn’t arrive. Instead, I can trust God to give me the raw materials for each day’s blog when the time is right.

Then, two or three hours later, to my great surprise, I was given the following poem:

YHWH took the earth creature and settled it in the garden of Eden so that it might cultivate and care for the land (Genesis 2:15; TIB). 

I’m walking in Eden,
Beside a great river,
Safe in your glorious presence,
Lord God.

I’m walking in exile,
With sorrow and anguish,
Safe, through your mercy and power,
Lord God.

I’m walking death’s valley,
With faith and acceptance,
Safe by your side, in the darkness,
Lord God.

I’m walking in heaven, 
At one with your Spirit,
Safe now, forever,
My Lord and my God. 

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT). 

9.10.22: Let it be

Context: As my energy dwindles, I’m becoming less able to receive and write new material every day. This means I sometimes have to use a piece I wrote a while ago.

I always try to choose the most appropriate, and to bring it up to date as best I can. However, it’s hard not to feel a sense of letting you all down when I do so.

Early yesterday morning, while I was praying, I realised that it’s not a personal failure when I don’t receive and write something new. In fact such days can be extremely helpful, because they give me time to process and absorb what God has already shown me. It can also be a relief to rest more that day, without the pressure of having to express something new in words.

Later on, whilst saying grace over my breakfast, I found myself ending my prayer with these words: “Let it be unto me according to thy will.”

When I looked this phrase up, I discovered that it is not a direct quote from any of the Bibles I use, though this had been my working assumption. Instead, it draws on four separate verses:

  • Mary’s response to the angel at the Annunciation: “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38; KJV).
  • The sentence given to us by Christ when he taught us how to pray: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; RSV).
  • Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he fully faced the inevitability of the cross: “I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
  • Simeon’s prayer when he took Jesus in his arms at the presentation in the temple: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word” (Luke 2:29; KJV).

I plan to incorporate the first three of these verses into my prayers every day, and to use Simeon’s dedication as I’m dying. But may my last words be Christ’s final cry on the cross: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46; KJV).


Reading: Luke 2:21-32; NLT

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

8.10.22: Like Jesus

Context: This prayer arrived very early one blessed Sunday morning. I chose it to share with you today after my priest visited me with home communion yesterday:

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:8; NLT). 

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

Like Jesus, I suffer,
Like Jesus, I yield;

Like him, I am wounded,
Like him, I’ll be healed.

Like Jesus, I bear it,
Like Jesus, I cry;

Like him, I submit,
And, like him, I will die.

For he’s my example,
My way, and my shrine;

My Priest and my Saviour,
My bread and my wine.

Like him, I will perish,
Like him, rise again –

So, with Christ as my goal,
I will not live in vain.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58; CSB).


References

Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Philippians 3:10-14; NLT).

I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church (Colossians 1:24; NLT).

I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14; CSB).

2.10.22: I’m nothing

Context: Since my hospital trip to London, I’ve been feeling drained and empty. Prayer is almost impossible. All I can do is to wait, resting in God’s hands, knowing I’m nothing, and placing all my trust in God. Yesterday morning, when I tried to pray, this is what came to me:

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Lord God, I know I’m nothing.

The only thing that’s good about me is that your Spirit lives in my soul.

Without your help, I can do nothing, Lord; I can’t even pray. 

Without you, I’m spiritually dead, though my body lives on.

I’m in your hand. You alone give me life, breath and everything I need to stay alive. When you close your hand, I will die. 

No matter what happens, Lord, please help me to become more like your dear Son in everything I think, say and do.

I ask this in his holy name. Amen.


References

I am nothing (Job 49:4; NLT). 

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NET).

Apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5; NLT).

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-7; NRSV).

I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead (Revelation 3:1; NLT).

The life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being (Job 12:10; NLT). 

When you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust (Psalm 104:28-9; NIV). 

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV). 

The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT). 

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17; NIV).

I honour you

Context: I woke, began to pray, and saw again, with awe, and more vividly than ever before, that God lives in everything, and that God is everything. In fact, there is nothing that isn’t one with God.

I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works (Psalm 145:5; NKJV). 

I honour you in all,
For you’re the energy, the light,
The pulse, the cells, the atoms, Lord,
The substance, and the life

In all that breathes, and grows and dies,
In all that fruits and fades,
In all that rises, all that falls,
And all, Lord, that degrades.

In earth and water, wind and fire,
In every star and sun:
By living over, in and through
All things, You make us one.

There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).


References 

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me (John 17:21-3; NLT). 

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; KJV). 

Infinite love

Context: Yesterday, after the briefest of waking-up prayers, I wrote solidly from 6-8.30am. By then I had more or less completed “Golden light” (https://wp.me/p45bCr-bR3), which later became the day’s blog. It was time to get up, but I decided to take a moment to pray before going downstairs. However, I had barely begun to collect my thoughts when I was hit by a series of revelations.

By the time they came to an end, I was shaken, tearful, joyful, reeling and awed, because I had just been given a glimpse of God’s infinite love and omnipresence. I had made some notes, but have no idea whether I wrote them during, or just after, what happened.

The experience was like watching slow-motion ripples spreading out wider and wider after a single drop of water had fallen into a vast, motionless sea. What I saw is very difficult to express in words, but I will do my best to describe each ripple in turn.

1. All love comes from God
I perceived that whenever I receive love, whether from a person or an animal, that love always comes from God, who is present within the one who is loving me.

2. God is in everything
Next, I grasped that God’s loving presence is in all that exists on earth, including everything made by people, as well as by God.

3. God is in good and bad
Then, I understood that God’s loving presence is not restricted to good people, creatures and things. Rather, divine love is equally present in difficult people, creatures, circumstances and events, including accidents, sickness, suffering, fear, grief and disaster – that is: all life and death.

4. God is in the cosmos
After this, I realised that everything in the cosmos also contains God’s loving presence, including the planets, suns, stars, comets, galaxies and even the dust of space.

Comment
Thus, I learned that divine love is present in everything, here and now, without exception. It has always been so, and always will be so, yet, like Jacob on his journey to Harran, I had not recognised this (see Genesis 28:16-17; NIV). As I write, I’m still shaking my head in wonderment at what I saw, yet there was more to come.

5. God is in all
Following this, I glimpsed that God’s loving presence can also be found in ugliness, destruction, abuse, violence and sin, though this is very hard to put into words. However much human beings damage and despoil the divine image in people, creatures, objects and creation, God’s love is still present in all things. Seeing this helped me to understand a little more about how God is able to bring good out of bad (see Romans 8:28; NLT).

Furthermore, I saw that there are no exceptions to God’s loving omnipresence. This means that there is nothing I can…

See, hear, smell, taste, or touch;
Use, waste, neglect, ignore, break, or discard;
Feel, think, say, or do;
Judge, hate, or destroy,

…that isn’t filled to overflowing with God’s loving presence.

6. Living in heaven
Lastly, I saw that when I consciously and fully recognise God’s constant, loving presence everywhere, and in all things, I live in God, which means living in heaven on earth. Similarly, after death, I will live in God, in heaven. Thus, I perceived that whether I live or die, oneness with God is the same.

Conclusion
God is present
in all people, creatures, things, experiences and events, everywhere and forever, and God is love (1 John 4:16; NIV).

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6; NLT).


References 

There is one Lord …who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NLT).