Some time ago, my vicar Lynn gave me a photo of three pigeons sitting on top of the Church roof in a rather posed sort of way. When I published it, I set a little competition with various categories. I had a number of entries for each and I’m now publishing the winners.
The painting section was won by Rosie Cannon aged 10
The poetry section – a poem about pigeons was won by Kim Herbert
and the photographic section ,a leaping squirell by Mary Bard.
Each of these have been sent a little prize and over the next few days the winning entries will be published here.
Rosie’s picture is first and she has written this about what a she has painted. Well done. It’s an amazing painting from a talented 10 year old
Hi ! I’m Rosie and I created this picture because God inspired me to draw and paint a butterfly because he created them and everything in his world .
A group of us at my church recently shared in a Quiet Day led by our Archdeacon Vanessa.
Her addresses were about different aspects of Prayer – Prayer and silence; Prayer and Place; Prayer and Time; Prayer and the Senses.
Each one has its own way of inspiring and creating reflection. We were encouraged to engage with the gift of silence to ourselves, each other, and especially to God. We were also encouraged to receive the Gift of prayer to us from God and seek the Holy Spirit at work within us. In a beautiful phrase we were to sense ‘God speaking to God from within.’
Looking at Prayer and Place, Vanessa prompted us to think of the places where God has been easily found. She herself, spoke to us of Lastingham in the Cleveland Hills in North Yorkshire. Here the Saxon monk Cedd, pupil of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, set up a monastery. This same Cedd brought the Gospel to Essex, to Bradwell which was consecrated by his presence and his prayer.
I haven’t been to Lastingham for many years but Vanessa opened up the memory and the experience within me. Below is the poem that I felt encouraged to write.
With it is a poem by Piers who was at the Quiet Day. Inspired, this time by the Abbey of Bec Hellouin in Normandy. Bec in the past supplied us with three Archbishops of Canterbury, Lanfranc, Anselm and Theobald. Bec still has a special relationship with Canterbury Cathedral. Today, only the tower remains of the Norman Abbey but a community of monks live in buildings near the tower. A sister community of nuns live in a convent a short distance away and on Sundays and Feast Days, the monks and nuns worship together. The serene and beautiful worship in their chapel inspired the first of the poems.
Both locations express the essence of what Vanessa spoke of to us. Thin places where heaven touches earth and God feels very near.
l’Abbaye du Bec
In my mind’s eye, I return: cream quietness… light bathing ordered stone, the scent of sung prayer hanging low.
Piers Northam 10 July 2021
I come to this place, deep in the hills, where silence and conversation meld into stillness.
God is here, his sanctuary a stone rainbow over the seeker after meaning.
What am I looking for in this place, where the one who drew others to their knees, poured out his soul?
I sense and seek the company of the one who prayed here first, in the shadows of sweeping arches, pillars and faint light.
Seemingly impermeable rock – steeped in suffering and joy; pain and perfection; faltering hope and confident determination – enfolds me as I kneel with Cedd:
exhaling uncertainty… …inhaling God’s blessing and his love.
Geoffrey Connor 10 July 2021
Photos: The Apse Chapel Pennant Melangell Church Mr.G Abbey Church Bec Hellouin Piers Northam Crypt, Lastingham Church. Parish of Lastingham
My friend Joyce Smith has sent another Photo prayer for us to contemplate. It is of a Redshank pausing at Welney.
There’s a story from the Desert Spiritual tradition about St. Antony
St. Antony was one day resting with his disciples when a hunter came upon them. He berated them for their indolence. Antony asked him to draw his bow and shoot an arrow. Puzzled, he did so. Antony asked him to do it again. He did so but when Antony asked him a third time, the man protested that if he carried on his bow would break with the strain.
Just so, said Antony, as we would if we did not from time to time rest and relax.
When I received Joyce’s latest tweet and photograph, this saying came to mind.
I thought too of something Cardinal Basil Hume once said, initially to novices he was teaching but it is applicable to all. “When you are busy in the market place, always have a nostalgia for the desert.”
In the midst of busy lives, in order to keep them grounded as well as in lives often filled with distraction, yearn to spent time with God. We need to pay attention to both the active and passive parts of us and hold them in balance. Jesus could not have done what he did do if he had not constantly gone off to be with his Father.
It’s not an easy thing for us to do which is why Cardinal Hume talked of having nostalgia for quiet. That is also why, having the Redshank moment is important. Seize the moment when you can be still (As St Cuthbert did in my blog about Cuddy’s Isle).
The other point, of course is, that you should be careful of using busyness to avoid being alone with God! He knows how to get round that one, so you can’t fool Him.
As the Hunter was to learn with St Antony, without these moments you simply break.
Think about how you can, like the Redshank, just pause and allow the water of God’s grace refresh you, flowing around and into you. That is what the Redshank shows us when she stops and allows the waters to flow around her.
Standing in this grace, God will restore your soul.
Thank you Joyce for sharing your photo and its message.