Another wake-up at 4am after a late night; I thought this week was about rest and restoration and getting some sleep! Only six hours a night isn’t what I wanted or hoped….. Anyway, I offer the below of my thoughts from the day. Go to www.facebook.com/timothy.c.aho if you want to see photos.
Nevertheless, today’s events were thought and prayer provoking. The morning communion service at St Mary’s was worshipful and meaningful for me, particularly some thoughts given for those who follow after Jesus in whatever form or fashion unique to that person or community. Speaking of Julian of Norwich (in the Roman and Anglican form of worship there are often references to saints or significant individuals in the life and history of the church), there was a reference to her service to God in ‘agony and joy.’
That turn of phrase really caught my attention. Later, in our morning session led by Mary Fleeson (google Lindisfarne Scriptorium and you will find her and husband Mark’s shop and artistic work), she asked us to identify two or three significant events from the previous day. Mary then asked us to select a couple of items from a large glass fish-bowl. Two items immediately caught my attention; a small piece of confetti and a shell with a small hole in it amongst all the shells and glass shards softened and smoothed by the sea.
Cleverly, Mary asked us to gather in groups of 4x and explain our selected item(s) and the significant event(s), and then to think of writing a ‘breath’ prayer. That is, something which could be said in the course of an exhale before requiring another intake of breath. And this is what I wrote, which became a kind of contemporary celtish prayer to Father, Son, and Spirit for me:
Lord of agony and joy, of emotions high and low, of service sacred and difficult, of mind ebullient and fecund and afflicted and sorrowful, be also this day my agony and my joy.
WordPress on the iPad doesn’t let me put in meter and rhyme like I would prefer, and it may not make sense to you…but it does to me!
I had to move out of my lodgings at The Open Gate today, and move over to the Manor Hotel (from cheap and reasonable to very expernsive!). Apparently, 40 some Anglican bishops from the north of England have invaded Holy Island for 24 hours, and my lodging at The Open Gate had already been reserved before I made my booking.
To end the day, I attended evensong at which Anna was singing. I entered at the same time as Anna, who was a bit fraught from arriving later than she wanted so I sat in a pew toward the front next to her and then prayed for her when she had settled. Almost immediately, in this very quiet and reverent building could be heard the gaggle of bishops noisily making their way to the entrance and then to their seats. I smiled to myself as I noticed many a head turn to see what the clucking was all about! While many responsive readings are not my style or a form of worship that excites me, I was pleasantly amused that this very full building of bishops and villagers and visitors couldn’t recite the canticles and Psalm 73 in unison quite right!
The retired bishop who spoke a reflection on Psalm 73 (I didn’t learn his hame but chatted briefly to him after evensong, so that’s how I know he was retired, but apparently even in retirement you are still a bishop, I guess) that was very insightful, but it was Anna singing, of all things, a little known Graham Kendrick Easter song that penetrated deeply. Her clear and pure voice made these words ring profoundly in my soul. A selection doesn’t do it justice, so here it is in total:
No scenes of stately majesty for the King of Kings, No nights aglow with candle flame for the King of love, No flags of empire hung in shame for Calvary, No flowers perfumed the lonely way that led him to a borrowed tomb for Easter Day.
No wreaths upon the ground were laid for the King of kings, Only a crown of thorns remained where he gave his love, A message scrawled in irony “King of the Jews’ Lay trampled where they turned away and no-one knew That is was the first Easter Day.
Yet nature’s finest colours blaze for the King of kings, And stars in jewelled-clusters say: ‘Worship heaven’s King!’ Two thousand spring times more have bloomed. Is that enough? Oh how can I be satisfied until he hears The whole world sing of Easter love?
My prayers shall be a fragrance sweet for the King of kings. My love the flowers at his feet for the King of love. My love the flowers at his feet for the King of love. My vigil is to watch and pray until he comes. My highest tribute to obey and live to know, The power of that first Easter Day.
(Graham Kendrick, copyright 1998 Make Way Music)