Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hidden and disguised by ordinariness…

To live a life of prayer in the world, hidden and disguised by the ordinariness of our outward appearances and circumstances makes us a ‘hermit in community’. Prayer makes our enclosure for us and we are naturally protected from over-involvement with outer things because we have come to know that those things can never give us fulfilment. We sense when to withdraw from, to be moderate with, outward activity. This is not a discipline imposed by will-power, by our own choice, but an attitude to life that becomes an intuitive response to the call to be silent and to wait on God. There is a sense in which one attains to a great freedom and liberty by not having to rely on outward structures. A hermit in community is not necessarily solitary but he/she will have to find their own (idio-rhythmic) rhythm of life, which is always unique for each person and will allow time for solitude, silence, prayer, reading and study…

Georgina Alexander, Following the Silence, p.84

I hope these few further words from Georgina Alexander’s excellent book will speak more clearly than I have been able to in my own unaided words to those who will have been puzzled, even hurt, by my increasing withdrawal from some areas of church life, especially the more exuberant and public ones. It’s important to emphasise that not only is this “not a discipline imposed by will-power, by our own choice,” it isn’t imposed by the will or influence of anyone else. God is doing this; it is his call. The last few weeks, as I explained earlier, have been unlike anything I can remember, and all I can do is attempt to be faithful.

There is such a powerful sense of God’s love surrounding me, of being held in the palm of his hand, and – I say this with some trepidation – of at last being in the centre of his will, at last being where he has called me to be. All that matters is Christ; all this has somehow to serve his Kingdom, to be some kind of channel of his mercy…

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” (Psalm 115.1)


  1. I have found developing that idio-rhythm of life is a big challenge. Eventually, I think it builds organically. Some of us call it being a monk in the world. There are times I even want to don a sort of monastic garb, not too obvious but idiosyncratic. Not high on my list of priorities, though. I will grow into it, if God calls me to it. St. Benedict called his monks to listen. It is an important word. Listen to your heart; listen to your gut; listen to those who love and respect you. I suspect it is all much simpler than we imagine.

  2. I like the point that it is not about willpower. I often try to 'improve' myself with routines both physical and spiritual only to have them fall away. It is the always the sense of longing that calls me most to God and that is accompanied by the need to sit and listen.
    I often try to explain it in my meditation groups as being like looking after a child, always listening out for the breath of God and having to act responsibly and change your lifestyle because now you are living for another.
    A thought going through my mind recently is a quote by Rilke 'I fret about you God'.

  3. I do feel Godde is choosing you to do this at this time, which is not easy when one blogs, since one is called, invited into silence, away from a world of words, of expressed communication.
    I do see you held up in Godde's silence and light and feel so very happy for you.

  4. A decentralized approach may be in many ways superior to a institutional one.