Opposites

I will be the first to admit that I have an addiction.

I love books, and find that I can rarely pass a bookseller without walking away with one, or two books.  Unlike some people, I actually read all the books I buy.  I purchased a small book entitled “The Contemplative Minister: Learning to lead from the still centre.” by Ian Cowley. This small pocket book fit nicely into my jacket pocket while I was travelling via Easy Jet – as everyone knows that Easy Jet charges an arm and a leg for any extra baggage.

I finished the book during the flight.  Afterwards I really wondered if this was the idea given the title of the book.  I think I preached on the the first chapter, ‘Being and Doing’, but failed to listen to my own words.

One thing that stuck with me, however, is a small section called ‘Control of the diary’.  I flip through my diary and see that I spend a lot of time doing, and very little time being.  In essence, prayer has become the last thing on a long list of to-do items.  It shouldn’t be this way, even though I know it often happens to me.  My fast read, my full calendar were a really message to me about my own priorities.

I’ve started getting up earlier so that I may say the Morning Prayer office and not find myself rushing and speed reading; ready to jump up to another task.  The end of my day is completed with Evening Prayer, or Compline.  Already I have noticed my outlook changing.  I hope also that this prayerful lifestyle helps in the parish, as I pray for the many parishioners in the chaplaincy day by day.

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Everyday of the Week

Having now met a great number of people in Anglican Church Freiburg (ACF) I realize that many of these faithful people are also busy people.  Busy with work, family, and changing circumstances.  There are many activities that happen throughout the week for all of us, but what is it that keeps us truly together when we are apart?  I think this is prayer.

Often there is the temptation to feel that by doing something we are being active and productive.  Yet, when we are the most busy it is good to spend more time in prayer.  Ha! you say.  How does one make more time to pray when already the day seems to slip past so quickly.  I realize myself, that it is close to midnight as I type this out, but as soon as this is sent I will gather my thoughts into the ancient worship service called Compline.  It is a quiet and contemplative prayer that marks the completion of the day and prepares one for sleep.  The prayer helps me to set aside all that has been part of the ‘doing’ and allows me to simply fall into ‘being’.

How then does a growing parish with many lively activities during the week support itself? Perhaps it is not so much in the ‘doing’ that marks productivity, rather the quality of ‘being’ that is important.  As always the doing and being issues arise as they did for Martha and Mary.  I like to think of both aspects of our lives as life giving, just as one cannot hold one’s breath – breathing in and out is much like doing and being – part of a life-giving system.

My prayer, this night, if for the family I wait for.  For the people I have met today.  For the kindness of new friends. For the people who go unnoticed quietly working away for the kingdom of God.  For those who offer themselves in gracious ways to communities of people in need.  For those who feel that the day has been spent doing so much and yet they see so little accomplished, that they not grow weary.  For those who want to be more with God despite the chaos in their lives.  For the grace of God to let go of the things that we cannot change, and the sleep which will come, once we learn to put both the ‘doing’ and the ‘being’, into God’s hands.