Monday, 5 November 2012

Looking at the stars

Woke early and was treated to the most beautiful sunrise: our bedroom window here faces east, unlike at home. Amazing colours lighting the ragged clouds. I didn't bother to try taking a photo, which wouldn't have done it justice, just gazed... So you'll have to use your imagination. It was a gift to be able to consider a whole brand-new day being formed out of that fiery energy: a kind of mirror-experience to what I wrote in the summer about praying the Examen at sunset.
I thought I'd pass on what someone (another spiritual director) shared with me last week - I'm sure I'm not breaking any confidences. She said that at home her bathroom window is so positioned that she can sit in contemplation (let the reader understand) and look at the sky. She finds this a lovely spiritual practice to start the day! So when somebody was anxiously telling her how hard it was to find time for formal prayer she suggested that whenever they were in a position to see the sky they might take a few moments and simply look... That's something I've been trying since my colleague mentioned it, and I find it very helpful. Even in the crowded city there's always a bit of sky to be seen.

In our bathroom at home we have a fridge magnet with Oscar Wilde's words: "all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." (Perhaps I should point out that we don't have a fridge in our bathroom; the magnet's on the side of a cabinet). Which way am I facing? Mud or stars? Here in Suffolk it's a joy to see the stars as well as expanses of daytime sky - so much of it to revel in!
Sacred Space offers this suggestion in its helps for prayer:
"To prepare for prayer, clean the heart and the senses. If the weather permits, go outside and look at the sky; and stay looking. Gaze at its colours, its changes, the forms and movement of clouds, the effects of the wind, the particular pattern of the horizons all round you. There is so much to watch, not with the eye of a meteorologist or physicist who seeks to analyse, but with the eye of a beholder, seeing and marvelling rather than thinking. With your energy focussed on watching, your mind calms down and your heart settles.This is not strictly prayer, but a preparation for prayer; it can have unexpected effects."
Actually, I'd say it was - or could be - prayer. What do you think? And it certainly can have unexpected effects.

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