Tag: meditation



It is your innerness

that is revealed


As the ripples of action



The silence irradiates

a new mystery


And the spirit knows


peace spiritknows SFS

Spiritual Reflection: Delight, and Meditate

Spiritual Reflection: Delight, and Meditate


Learning to read in a meditative way is a skill, an art, and a way of spiritual growth.

It used to be called “Lectio Divina” – a way of pondering a short text to allow all of its secrets to be open gently to the meditating mind.

We are so used to skim reading today – news, images, websites, emails – that there is a great danger we skim read life

We can skim and skate on the surface and never get to the heart of things.  We can completely miss the depths.

But blessed are those who delight and meditate.

Gerard Hughes in “God of Surprises” says meditative reading is like sucking a sweet. Let the tastes go round your mouth. Don’t rush it, crunch the sweet and swallow it quickly.  Take your time.  Let your mind dream and spin out ideas starting from the phrase.  If it goes too far away, bring it back to the phrase.  Start by making yourself do it for 30 seconds, then a minute, then maybe a bit more.

Start with some favourite or well known phrases:

“Our Father”

“The Lord is my shepherd”

“God is love”

You could try meditating on a short phrase in the morning, and sometimes one in the evening, too.  You may find that the phrase comes back to you during the day, or during the next day, and then you find yourself thinking some more, and seeing still further depths you had not noticed before…

If you try meditative reading, I hope that you will find delight, you will be able to meditate, and that you will learn about the depths that our lives and this universe has to offer.


The Spiritualities of Christianity – Lectio Divina

“Lectio Divina” is a method of transcending “paralysis by analysis”, and it can be very exciting for people today to discover a totally new way of reading a spiritual text.

“Lectio” used to be practised by monks hundreds of years ago, and was a method of prayerfully reading the Bible.

It is not skimming, or scanning, the way we often read email and websites.

It is deals with text in short “bite-sized chunks”.

But the real genius of lectio is that we are advised and guided to focus our minds on a short piece of text in a kind of meditation.

A section in “God of Surprises” by Gerard Hughes, explains it:

The process is analogous to sucking a boiled sweet…Often a phrase will catch the attention of the subconscious mind’s needs long before our conscious mind is aware of the reason for the attraction…remain with the phrase for as long as possible without trying to analyse it.”

Practically speaking, I have found that a good way of doing this is to try to “learn” a phrase that I have come across, by repeating it several times.

I then let my mind freely associate, play with, and wonder about the phrase.

I will try to give an example in my next post…

The Stepping Stones to Eternity

This sequence was inspired by St. Bonaventure’s work, ‘Journey of the Mind to God’.


I came upon his words

and set my mind to understanding


how the world could teach me

the mystery of God…

steppingstones toeternity JTG1

I had heard of nature

as the book of God


But never had the notion

rooted deep in my mind


Now I was confronted

by the words of a saint


For whom this was a grace

to be received


A journey to God

through the vestiges


Of his glory

in the living universe…

gloryliving universe JTG1

So let us begin

with the beginning


The source of all

from whom streams all






all of creation

allenergy JTG1

The Father

of lights


From whom is every good

and perfect gift


We pray to the Father

the invisible one


to enlighten our mind

in the ways of peace


which surpass

all humankind


We pray

to the God


of beginnings

and the Father of all


That from eternity

somehow our understanding


even if slowly

perhaps imperceptibly


As our eyes adjust



to the dawning light

will grow

We do not know

who else may be praying


for us at this time

perhaps many people


perhaps no-one on earth

but heaven may be inclining


even now

and whispering in the ear


Remember Francis

who greeted in peace


Announced peace before all

prayed in ecstasy for peace


Following the man of peace

we worship


Whose honour was

nailed to a post


in spite of all the love

and the healing he gave


For Francis, grace came

in a revelation


of meaning

of vision


For me it is gleaned

from these words


in another tongue

in the soaring of contemplation


to be still




pondering over and over


to consider and take to heart

a truth for today


To escape

the merely active life


And dwell

in imagination


Allowing God

to brush the spirit


with the Spirit

of Consolation


His call is to pass beyond

to peace


Through the most ardent love

of the crucified


Like Paul

who was raised


to the highest heaven

yet nailed to the cross


the heart of Christ

beating within


Francis bore the signs

of the passion


On his body

in his soul


For us to follow

devote ourselves


To the suffering saviour

so spurned today


In prayer

I throw my heart


at his feet

and wonder why


it must be this way

Heaven is silent


yet images of crucifixion

linger in the mind


I realise the hidden faith

of love giving himself


again and again

stretching out


offering an open heart

which is lashed by an evil world


No other way

has this man at the centre


The crossroads

the X that marks


the new beginning

the intersection


of heaven

and humanity



in a tortured death


How strange

yet how universal


There are stages of illumination

and they say


We must very often return

to our beginning


as we grow our wings

like the seraph Francis saw


who pierced his soul so tenderly

there are stages of progression


as we climb heavenwards in heart

from creation to Creator


from nature to nothing

we can imagine


And we enter by this door

to find pasture


and the tree of life

it is by prayer


that our desire is kindled

prayer and the mind


turning intensely to God

who is our light


So the first call

is to prayer


and that through the crucified Christ

for the spiritual life


does not consist merely

in study or meditation


there must also be fervour and devotion







and love


To any who are disposed

to seek for grace in all humility


To those with the desire

for wisdom


Who wish to glorify

saviour God


These words are meant

remembering that the soul herself


Must first be cleansed

if the eyes are to see


Beyond the window of the world

to look to God


Exercise your heart

in reading these things


as well as your mind

take your time


for these words

are the stepping stones





Contemplative Spirituality

What is contemplative spirituality?

It’s similar to meditation.  It can involve silence.  It involves stillness and waiting.

It is about the inner world but also the world around us.

It is also about what can’t be seen.

I first learnt about contemplative spirituality from reading The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila.  The describes the soul being like a diamond or like a castle.  Suddenly what was inside me had dignity and value.  What was inside me was worth exploring!

I learnt that sometimes we can experience an inner “consolation” – a feeling of comfort, of pleasure, of peace – though this is not always to expected, and is not to be sought for its own sake.

As I read more, I learnt how contemplative spirituality can involve prayer, and that this prayer can take place outside in the open air, in woods, in caves, anywhere.   I was reading The Little Flowers of St. Francis.

Then I learnt that contemplation is mysterious.  God both is and is not what we think.  I learnt about apophatic and kataphatic theology (I may post on these at another time).  I learnt about “the dark night” as I read St. John of the Cross.  I learnt of the trials and tribulations of contemplation as I read about some of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

Coming up to the present day, I learnt about new movements.  “Julian Prayer” groups, named after Julian of Norwich, who meet to pray in silence.  I learnt about Quakers, whose silence is an essential part of their spirituality.  I learnt about “centring prayer”, a concept that developed from The Cloud of Unknowing.

Contemplation, contemplative prayer, and contemplative spirituality, is very much alive and of interest to all kinds of people today.  It has been an important tradition for Christians, as it has also been an important tradition for those of other faiths.

Today, silence is an important part of being human for me.  Without silence, my life lacks depth and meaning.

Silence enables me to think,

Silence helps me listen.

In silence, I sometimes worship.  And I can pray.

I wonder if contemplative spirituality is something that has ever interested you?

The Spiritualities of Christianity – Creation Spirituality

Serious challenges to faith in God today come from atheism (belief that no God exists) and secular materialism (belief that only material substance exists).  What I call “creation spirituality”, stands in opposition to these challenges for several reasons.

Firstly, atheism and secular materialism can create huge doubts in the minds of people about the purpose and meaning of their lives.  If human beings are merely the random outworkings of scientific principles, then what is the point of life? 

Yet a focus on the idea of creation makes me appreciate that life has a supernatural source, that the universe has a purpose and a meaning, and that every person who has ever lived, and who ever will live, has something unique about them  – we are all special “creations” – of our biological parents, of course, but even more importantly, of a supernatural parent whom I know as God.

And then there is the whole issue of nature, the world and the universe.  Is it a cold, unfeeling universe that we inhabit that cares nothing whether we continue in existence or are extinguished as a species?  What is the point of the birds, the trees, the flowers, the clouds, the hills, the mountains, the skies and the stars? Why do we respond to them the way that we do?

What I call “creation spirituality” answers these questions.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.  I respond to nature – to creation – because I, like creation, am created.  “God saw all that he had made and it was very good”.  The world around us can be dangerous and destructive of human life; but it is also a daily blessing, and we depend on our environment for survival, as we could not live without oxygen, water and food.

There is no one historical thread of spirituality we can identify as “creation spirituality” but for me, living today in our 21st century world, a spirituality that has a clear focus on human beings as significant creations, the earth as a unique creation and the universe as an awe-inspiring context for life, is essential for living with purpose, meaning and some daily joy.

Image by Filip Vincůrek from Pixabay