Category Archives: Mystery

Reading Qfp 20 – An Afterthought

To me, being a Christian is a particular way of life, not the unquestioning acceptance of a particular system of theology, not belief in the literal truth of the Virgin birth, or the Resurrection and Ascension, but being the kind of person that Jesus wanted his followers to be and doing the things he told them to do…

Nor, it seems to me, can you live a Christian life unless, like Jesus, you believe in the power of goodness, of justice, of mercy and of love; unless you believe in these so strongly that you are prepared to put them to the acid test of experiment; unless these constitute the real meaning of life for you, more important than life itself, as they were for Jesus.

Kathleen Lonsdale, 1967 – Qfp 20.26

From time to time I have been troubled by the fact that on the one hand, I find I have been led to live as a member of the Society of Friends; and on the other hand, my lifelong calling has been to pray the Jesus Prayer, a prayer which developed among the monastic communities of Egypt and Syria in the 4th century, and which is assumed, by all its teachers, to be prayed within a eucharistic community – i.e. a church.

The word “church” is very often taken to imply a community called together to worship God (from the Greek ἐκκλησία – ecclesia), and generally assumed to be equipped with creeds, dogma, and at least some formal practice of the Eucharist – Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or whatever the local expression may be. But it was not always so, it seems. The very early church appears simply to have been a local community of worshippers, gathered together by a common love of Jesus and his teachings.

In this sense, the community of Friends fits the bill as well as any other – better, perhaps, than some for whom membership involves passing through some more or less stringent filter (catechism, statement of faith, etc.) of doctrine as a test of belonging.

I have written elsewhere of the “eucharistic community of silence” that is a Quaker meeting, and so I believe it to be. Cynthia Bourgeault writes of Jesus as a “recognition event” –

In the gospels, all the people who encountered Jesus only by hearsay, by what somebody else believed about him, by what they’d been told, by what they’d hoped to get out of him: all those people left. They still leave today. The ones that remained–and still remain–are the ones who have met him in the moment: in the instantaneous, mutual recognition of hearts and in the ultimate energy that is always pouring forth from this encounter.

In this sense, Kathleen Lonsdale’s “real meaning… more important than life itself, as they were for Jesus” carries the full weight of this shock of recognition – the unarguable, holy presence within the gathered meeting. More than that, the link she makes to the cross, the inescapable (Luke 9.23) link between “the power of goodness, of justice, of mercy and of love” and the death of the self, brings us to the heart of the meaning of the eucharist: the shock of recognition present, to the contemplative heart, in just the same way in communion as in the gathered meeting.

 

Channels of Grace

This morning we held a short meeting for worship, before the Christian Aid Big Breakfast. There is something about meeting early, just a few of us in the shadowed meeting room, with the light of a rather grey and showery morning filtering through the long windows, and we were nearly at the end of the particularly sweet silence that had settled over us when a Friend rose to give ministry.

She spoke of gratitude, and the need, despite the fact that she was living in a time of personal peace and happiness, of developing a habit of gratefulness that could outlast happy circumstances, and sustain itself even in times of difficulty and grief. Her words touched us all, I think, and we went in to breakfast full of that blessed silence, and of the grace that had ended it.

The dictionary definitions of the word “gratitude” seem to major on the sense of obligation, and yet this is not the gratitude of which our Friend spoke so movingly. The word is indeed related, though its Latin root, to the idea of grace. As Satya Robyn points out, every detail of our existence is grace: the provision of oxygen, food, shelter, the very constitution of our bodies – all are given. She goes on to speak of the humility that comes with this realisation: a humility that is “a very realistic appraisal of our conditions and of our [imperfect] nature which leads to a natural sense of contrition. Contrition is the gate through which grace can enter.”

She goes on:

So is grace some kind of divine intervention…? I don’t know. What I do know is that the universe is vast and complex, and is beyond the limits of our imagination… In a world such as this, anything is possible. Maybe grace is coincidence and wishful thinking, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is whether the concept of grace helps me to keep an open mind and heart, or not. It does. That is enough.

So is this the source of this imperishable gratitude to which we can aspire? Perhaps it is. We are only beginning, as humanity, to realise how deeply we depend on the subtle networks of our world, and on each others’ goodwill and hope. Each one of us depends, whether we like it or not, upon our neighbours and our friends, and in any church, any community of people gathered for worship, our spiritual dependence is deep and organic. If these are the roots of our gratitude, then it will endure hard times; and more than that, it will become a deep channel of grace flowing into our community, spreading its warmth and compassion, its mercy, far beyond the confines of family or meeting, and on into the world.

Holy Saturday

In many churches today is known as Holy Saturday, the day when Jesus, having died on the cross on Good Friday, lay quiet in the cold rock tomb until the extraordinary events of Sunday morning.

The Benedictine nuns from Holy Trinity Monastery wrote a couple of years ago on their blog, iBenedictines,

There is a quietness and stillness about Holy Saturday – a day out of time – that belies the intense activity of Christ. We do not know what happened in the tomb, but the ancient belief in the harrowing of hell, when Christ descended into the underworld to set free all the righteous who had died before his coming, reminds us that God is at work even when he seems most distant, most unapproachable.

Today we have no sacraments to affirm the bonds between this world and the next, no colour or warmth to assuage our grief, no activity to distract us or give a false sense of security. We are simply waiting, all emotion spent. Most of us live our lives in perpetual Holy Saturday mode, our faith a bit wobbly, our hope a bit frail, but clinging to the cross and Resurrection with an obstinacy wiser than we know. Holy Saturday proclaims to anyone who will listen that when we cannot, God can and does. That is our faith, already tinged with Easter joy and gladness.

As Quakers we normally have no sacraments, no activity to distract us or give a false sense of security. We are all about simply waiting. Perhaps there is something in Quakerism that lives consciously, even deliberately, in perpetual Holy Saturday mode. Our prayer and our worship, are intentionally, rootedly apophatic, despite their occasional intersection with the spoken word in ministry.

Bishop Andy John, writing yesterday in New Daylight, said of Luke’s account of Jesus’ words on the cross with the criminal crucified next to him (Luke 23.39ff)

Luke invites us to see something extraordinary about the boundless love of Jesus. There is no one beyond its reach, none too broken to fix, none too wretched to redeem, none too far gone that they cannot be found and saved. So, we are meant to see the height and depth and breadth of this grace and to marvel at it once more – but not from a distance. Instead we are invited to identify with the dying man, because we too are in need of the very grace he received and the gentle words of assurance that Jesus will bring us home.

…From the lips of Jesus himself, we are told that those who have found in him their hope and joy stand on a promise that will not fail and ground which will not move.

In the words of the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The nembutsu, the central practice of Pure Land Buddhism, is often translated, “I am seeking a refuge in your infinite mercy, Amitabha Buddha, as I trust in you.”

Mercy seems to be a fundamental property of love, and love entails letting in all the love of God, all that God loves; the broken, the terrified, the pain and the uncanny bitter grieving of that which is, and is loved. And that includes each of us, as seen from the inside. Mercy is not an external, condescending thing: it is the open heart of love, quite simply that.

This ‘God’ word…

A number of recent posts on this blog (here, for instance, or here) have touched on what we mean when we use the word ‘God’, and it seems to me that I should say (or borrow!) a word or two about how I use the word, and a little of what I mean by it.

In his fascinating book God without God: Western Spirituality without the wrathful king, Michael Hampson writes:

A simplistic theism tends to maintain not only that God exists, but that God intervenes regularly in word affairs, from the global to the trivial, and has the right to demand obedience on threat of punishment. The greater presumption ahead of this detail is that there is only one such being, and that it has recognisable human attributes such as personhood and will. This whole package might be called not just theism but presumptive monotheism.

It is against this presumptive monotheism that the atheist case is made… The atheist case is sound, but it is not the last word…

The church still claims two proofs for the existence of God, and they are entirely compatible with the atheist case against the God of presumptive monotheism. The first is the argument from creation: not that anything in the universe needs God in order to operate, but that anything exists at all, that there is even the space and the potential for anything to exist at all. It points to… the ultimate source of all that exists and the essence of existence itself.

The second begins with the experience of being self-consciously alive: the sense of being a conscious observer of, and decision-making participant in, the one particular life we call our own… As fragile and insignificant as it may seem against the vastness of the universe, the mystery of self-consciousness is the most significant experience in each of our lives, indeed the carrier of all experience and the very essence of life. It points once again towards the mystery of existence itself…

It is to this ultimate mystery that the church assigns first the name Existence or Being… and then the name God.

Hampson here has just about summed up what I mean myself when I use the name God. And Hampson, a former Church of England priest, comes very close to a Quaker understanding of God – or perhaps I should say that many Quakers, at least in the liberal tradition, come very close to this mystical understanding of God which has been at the heart of the “one catholic and apostolic church” since its very beginnings.

Emilia Fogelklou, the Swedish Quaker theologian and writer, puts it as clearly as anyone (she is writing of herself in the third person):

But then one bright spring day – it was the 29th of May 1902 – while she sat preparing for her class under the trees in the backyard of Föreningsgatan 6, quietly, invisibly, there occurred the central event of her whole life. Without visions or the sound of speech or human mediation, in exceptionally wide-awake consciousness, she experienced the great releasing inward wonder. It was as if the ‘empty shell’ burst. All the weight and agony, all the feeling of unreality dropped away. She perceived living goodness, joy, light like a clear, irradiating, uplifting, enfolding, unequivocal reality from deep inside.

The first words which came to her – although they took a long time to come – were, ‘This is the great Mercifulness. This is God. Nothing else is so real as this.’ The child who had cried out in anguish and been silenced had now come inside the gates of Light. She had been delivered by a love that is greater than any human love. Struck dumb, amazed, she went quietly to her class, wondering that no one noticed that something had happened to her.

(Quaker Faith & Practice 26.05)

Love seems to be the quality of death

A friend told me of a recent experience she had. After reading a story of a saint who had tried to live every day as if it was the last day of his life, she decided it would be interesting to try doing this herself. And so, that evening, as she got into bed, she began to plan her last day on earth. She thought about what she would do, whom she would see, whom she would ask to forgive her, to whom she would say goodbye. She began to feel quite sorry for herself, and even reduced herself to tears, but in the end she realised she was just playing a game, so she gave it up and went to sleep.

The next morning, however, as she woke up, a very clear thought came into her mind. “What would I do,” she asked herself, “if I knew that I was dying now, this minute, that I had only a few more seconds to live?” Suddenly it was no longer a game. She was really there, at the End, alone, and there was no time left to prepare or plan. There was nothing she could do or undo. And the most astonishing thing was, she said, that after a split second of panic she knew exactly what she must do. “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” she heard herself cry.

The experience was, my friend believed, one of the greatest graces she had ever received. She realised that, for her, there was only one way of dying, and one way of “practising” it: to throw herself into the arms of God, not only at the end of life, but every day, and cry for mercy. To do it so insistently, so constantly, that the prayer that came to her spontaneously at the moment of her “death experience”, as she called it, would become a ceaseless prayer of the heart, that it would shape her life as well as her death.

Irma Zaleski, Door to Eternity

Some readers might find this almost a sick, perverse little story, thinking that a mature faith should “stand on [its] own two feet before God”, and that the whole enterprise of imagining one’s own death was macabre, medieval, pathological. But I can assure you that there is nothing pathological about the nearness of death. It is a place to which each and every one of us will come, sooner or later, with no exception at all. The sooner we get used to it, the better, actually, it will be for us. I have been profoundly grateful for the couple of times I have found myself facing the probability of my own death. It is a clean place, oddly a place of great freedom and peace; but it is not, as Zaleski’s friend discovered, remotely a game.

Mercy is a word many misunderstand. Irma Zaleski again:

We tend to think of the mercy of God as his “pity” for us, for which we have to beg, for which we have to humiliate ourselves and wait trembling and afraid. This is an awful distortion of the Good News… To ask for mercy is not to cringe in self-abasement or fear, but to look towards God in trust and hope. Mercy is a “summary” of all we know or need to know about God’s love for us.

Love seems to be the quality of death. The Buddhist psychologist Kathleen Dowling Singh has written extensively on death and the dying process, chiefly in her wonderful book The Grace in Dying. She writes,

As we return and/or are returned to our Original Nature, virtues that we have acquired, usually through deliberate cultivation, flow naturally as water from a spring. The qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, presence, centeredness, spaciousness, mercy and confidence all radiate naturally forth from our transformed being as we come closer to death. Many a time I have heard “I love you” whispered softly and easily to a spouse or child or parent who may never have heard those words before. Many a time I have seen the dying comfort those in pain around them…

Love appears to be the last connection the dying have with the world of form. We become expressive vehicles for the power of the Ground of Being, inhabited and vitalised by far greater Being… The Ground of Being is, in a very real sense, Love. As we merge with it, self-consciousness and all questions of self-worth and previous psychological issues of lovability spontaneously melt. Love simultaneously pours into and pours out of us. It begins to pour through us.

This is what Zaleski, I believe, is getting at. Certainly it is what I am getting at. To practice for death is consciously to approach that place of last connection: to abandon ship, as it were, and leap into the endless ocean of mercy that is the Ground of Being itself. (God is nothing less than this.) If we can begin to do this consciously – and it is not so far from the self-abandonment of contemplation – then that gracious power of “loving-kindness, compassion, presence… mercy and confidence” will have the chance to manifest in our very lives, poured out for those the Way places in our path.

Stand still in that which is pure, after ye see yourselves; and then mercy comes in. After thou seest thy thoughts, and the temptations, do not think, but submit; and then power comes. Stand still in that which shows and discovers; and then doth strength immediately come. And stand still in the Light, and submit to it, and the other will be hushed and gone; and then content comes.

George Fox, 1652

Fields of Grey…

The wonder of my body aging, dying,
is finding another flame within,
a holy eternal sphere,
that will never go out
and is more beautiful than all the form
you have ever known —
put together.

When the fields on the body
begin to turn grey,
let your hand’s touch upon all
soften.

Hafiz – with thanks to Contemplative Photography

Aging is a fascinating process. It’s not, of course, as though one could choose it as a hobby – but accepted, it becomes a gentle thing, full of curiosity and grace. All right, some things, like running for buses and climbing rocks, do become more difficult; but others – like listening to the open wind of the Spirit in the heart, like staying still – seem to become much easier…

A due proportion of solitude…

The amount of solitude which is attainable or would be wholesome in the case of any individual life is a matter which each of us must judge for himself… A due proportion of solitude is one of the most important conditions of mental health. Therefore if it be our lot to stand apart from those close natural ties by which life is for most people shaped and filled, let us not be in haste to fill the gap; let us not carelessly or rashly throw away the opportunity of entering into that deeper and more continual acquaintance with the unseen and eternal things which is the natural and great compensation for the loss of easier joys. The loneliness which we rightly dread is not the absence of human faces and voices – it is the absence of love… Our wisdom therefore must lie in learning not to shrink from anything that may be in store for us, but so to grasp the master key of life as to be able to turn everything to good and fruitful account.

Caroline E Stephen, 1908 – Quaker Faith & Practice 22.30

It seems to me that for those of us whose lot is not to stand apart from others really do need to take seriously the fact that “[a] due proportion of solitude is one of the most important conditions of mental health.” In a marriage, or other committed relationship, each party surely owes it to the other ensure that they do have “[a] due proportion of solitude”. This is one of the greatest gifts those who live together can give each other, not only to allow each other reasonable solitude, and each gently to safeguard their own, but actively to work for a way of life that allows reasonable, loving access to times alone with “the unseen and eternal things”.

I find it slightly odd that the chapter in Quaker Faith & Practice devoted to close relationships doesn’t seem to deal with this explicitly. There are several moving and inspiring quotations on the spiritual dimensions of relationships which have a bearing on what I’m thinking of, but I can find nothing clearer. The most striking of these passages seems to me to be Christopher Holdsworth’s, from 1985 (22.06):

I wonder whether we do not need to rediscover the possibilities of a friendship in which the deepest areas of experience may be shared. Certainly that kind of openness seems to have existed in earlier generations among a group who were very significant in the life of the Society. Until this century it was not uncommon for Friends to travel in the ministry, following a real sense of leading in this direction. Often they went out in pairs, one older, one younger. The study of their travels shows, I think, that their friendship became one in which they could open to one another their struggles and failures, their hopes and visions, when they became for each other the way through to the presence of God. On their journeyings, too, they met with Friends in their homes, seeking times for worship and prayer together, sometimes with whole families, sometimes with individuals. In this way they shared help on the inner journey with those with whom they met.

Even this, though, doesn’t engage directly with the issue of solitary space within loving relatedness, though it shows clearly enough the deep basis of trust and friendship required to allow each other our necessary solitudes. Rachel Rowlands and other have written movingly of the need for, and the dynamics of, community (22.20-29) but I should be glad of other Friends’ perspectives on giving each other the precious gift of stillness and solitude. To be in such a relationship myself is a most blessed thing, and to be able to give as well as receive such a gift is one of our most cherished expressions of our love.

The mystery of faith within relationship is deeper than many of us know, I think, and a loving, respectful exploration of it is one of the great adventures of living, and loving, together. But in order to do so, experience suggests that times alone with “the unseen and eternal things” are as necessary as times together. Each is then able to bring back to the hearth of the relationship the fruits of their travels in the silent places of the heart.

I rather wish it were possible to encourage more of such gift-giving among Friends – or at least to know how common it is, and how other Friends have found ways to make it part of their lives together.

Prayer without ceasing?

How, then, shall we lay hold of that Life and Power, and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning all our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, towards Him who calls in the deeps of our souls. Mental habits of inward orientation must be established. An inner, secret turning to God can be made fairly steady, after weeks and months and years of practice and lapses and failures and returns. It is as simple an art as Brother Lawrence found it, but it may be long before we achieve any steadiness in the process. Begin now, as you read these words, as you sit in your chair, to offer your whole selves, utterly and in joyful abandon, in quiet, glad surrender to Him who is within. In secret ejaculations of praise, turn in humble wonder to the Light, faint though it may be. Keep contact with the outer world of sense and meanings. Here is no discipline in absent-mindedness. Walk and talk and work and laugh with your friends. But behind the scenes keep up the life of simple prayer and inward worship. Keep it up throughout the day. Let inward prayer be your last act before you fall asleep and the first act when you awake. And in time you will find, as did Brother Lawrence, that ‘those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep’.

Thomas R Kelly, 1941 (Quaker Faith & Practice 2.22)

Simple though Brother Lawrence called it, the practice of the presence of God is a lifelong discipline, in which we become caught, I think, rather than deciding on it, as maybe a New Year’s resolution. Repetitive prayer, whether a Christian practice such as the Jesus Prayer, or a Buddhist one such as the Nembutsu, has a way, eventually, of attaching itself to one’s life rhythms – the breath, the heartbeat – till it becomes an integrated part of one’s existence, drawing the heart (understood as the centre of our personal being) not away from “the outer world of sense and meanings” but always towards the source of all that is.

This is not a difficult, technical exercise, nor one reserved for men of unusual and select spiritual gifts, but one for all of us, female or male, artisan or intellectual, old or young. It is so simple, whether as a side-effect of a practice such as the Nembutsu, or to “maintain a simple attention and a fond regard for God, which I may call an actual presence of God.” (Brother Lawrence)

As Quakers, our practice is above all silence, and it is through that silence that we may find a way into our “simple attention” that we had perhaps not suspected, for it is not much spoken of in the literature of inner prayer, even among Friends. Elfrida Vipont Foulds, writing in 1983, said,

I read that I was supposed to make ‘a place for inward retirement and waiting upon God’ in my daily life, as the Queries in those days expressed it… At last I began to realise, first that I needed some kind of inner peace, or inward retirement, or whatever name it might be called by; and then that these apparently stuffy old Friends were really talking sense. If I studied what they were trying to tell me, I might possibly find that the ‘place of inward retirement’ was not a place I had to go to, it was there all the time. I could know the ‘place of inward retirement’ wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, and find the spiritual refreshment for which, knowingly or unknowingly, I was longing, and hear the voice of God in my heart. Thus I began to realise that prayer was not a formality, or an obligation, it was a place which was there all the time and always available.

(Quaker Faith & Practice 2.21)

The heart knows its own true North. It is only we, living as we do in our minds, our busy-ness, our acquisitiveness and our anxieties, who lose our bearings.

Pierre Lacout (God is Silence, 1969) writes:

In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow – a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and the clamour of our emotions must be stilled. It is by an attention full of love that we enable the Inner Light to blaze and illuminate our dwelling and to make of our whole being a source from which this Light may shine out…

God is there. But there is still silence. And the more God is there, the more there is Silence. Only those who try out this way of silence know how many shades of meaning this word can include, how much variety, how much mystery.

If we but turn our attention away from “subtle argument and clamour” into the “place of inward retirement”, back into our own stillness, we haven’t to do anything, but merely allow the compass of our heart to swing true North, the source of all that is, and our own destination.

But there is a Root, or Depth in Thee…

For this turning to the Light and Spirit of God within Thee, is thy only true turning unto God, there is no other Way of finding Him, but in that Place where he dwelleth in Thee. For though God be everywhere present, yet He is only present to Thee in the deepest, and most central Part of thy Soul. Thy natural Senses cannot possess God, or unite Thee to Him, nay thy inward Faculties of Understanding, Will, and Memory, can only reach after God, but cannot be the Place of his Habitation in Thee. But there is a Root, or Depth in Thee, from whence all these Faculties come forth, as Lines from a Centre, or as Branches from the Body of the Tree. This Depth is called the Centre, the Fund or Bottom of the Soul. This Depth is the Unity, the Eternity, I had almost said, the Infinity of thy Soul; for it is so infinite, that nothing can satisfy it, or give it any Rest, but the infinity of God.

William Law, The Spirit of Prayer

William Law, writing in 1749, gets absolutely what I was trying to say in yesterday’s post: the way to God is deep within the heart of each of us. Quakers speak of ‘that of God in every one’ (George Fox) and it is by finding this divine seed as we might call it, by ‘inward retirement’ that I think we find the gateway to the Ground of Being itself. We are not separate, never could be separate, from the Source of all being; and yet that Source, that Ground, is infinitely greater than we are ourselves, and eternal where we are brief and transient. God is not ‘out there’ in space or somewhere like that, but neither is God ‘in here’, contained within the human mind or soul like some psychological type or complex. JB Phillips told us that our God is too small; looked at as the Ground of Being, any conception we could possibly form of God is far too small, and can never be anything more.

The process of ‘inward retirement’, to borrow Pierre Lacout‘s phrase, is the only way I have found to approach that Root or Centre where it touches God, and God touches it. The means of inward retirement may be as different and various as women and men are themselves, but there is one destination – which we shall all reach in the end, whether we know it or not – and in the end all our ways and means come down to that one turning – metanoia – to the deepest and truest identity far within, that is the indwelling Light and Spirit itself.

Trust?

Micah Bales is a founding member of Friends of Jesus, a new Quaker community in Washington, DC. A communications and web strategist by trade, he is employed by Friends United Meeting.

Micah has written a most interesting post, very much of course conditioned by the US experience, but applicable directly across the capitalist, industrial, wealthy, developed countries, as well, to a degree, to pretty much everyone else in the globalised society. His thesis, that the trust on which society depends for its viability is increasingly under threat, is as relevant in the UK at the moment as it is across North America. He writes:

Because I can trust others, I generally don’t sweat every detail of life. I am able to focus on my most important tasks, rather than worrying about whether the mechanics did an adequate job repairing my car, or whether the mail will arrive on time and in good condition. Because I trust my mechanic and the postal service. Because I trust them to do their jobs to the best of their ability, I can do mine.

But what happens when trust breaks down? How will it affect me if I no longer feel confident in the safety of the food I buy at the grocery store, or the quality work of my mechanic or postal delivery? I’ll worry more, for one thing. If I can afford it, I’ll probably also pay extra for assurance that those I depend on will come through for me, if only out of a sheer profit motive. A world without trust is one filled with contracts and lawsuits, high fees and deposits; it is a world of constant stress and second-guessing.

Micah’s conclusion – that in God we can trust – is one that we liberal Quakers in Britain Yearly Meeting, and perhaps also in Friends General Conference, may find hard to accept at face value. But I would suggest that trust is at the root of who we are as Quakers, whether we self-identify as liberal, evangelical or conservative. We sit in the Light, and we trust that we receive in the silence vastly more than we could ever give. The very first of our Advices and Queries (1.02) reads:

Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.

Our lives are not our own: they are far more than that, and ultimately our very breath is trust. We came into this world, and we shall leave it, anything but under our own steam, and the processes that keep us alive for our few years on earth are far from fully under our own control. By trust is our very existence made possible, however we may explain to ourselves the recipient of that trust…