Thursday 26th March
You have heard it said: Love your neighbour, hate your enemy.
But I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
In this way you will be children of your Father in heaven.
Desmond Tutu described Nelson Mandela
as a man who was not broken
but refined by his 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa.
Perhaps without that suffering, he suggests,
he would have been less able to be as compassionate and magnanimous
as he turned out to be.
Can we learn to accept all that we experience in life
is a vital part of our journey to wholeness?
There was once a man who had a pristine lawn that he was very proud of.
He had sown it himself from seed and carefully and lovingly overseen its growth.
He fed it, tended it, and mowed it carefully and with precision
and delighted in neighbours complimenting him on its perfection.
You can imagine his consternation then
when one morning he awoke to discover his lawn covered in dandelions.
Over the coming weeks and months he tried everything to rid his lawn of them,
only to find that they spread even more.
Eventually, out of sheer desperation he wrote to the department of agriculture
to see if they had any suggestions to the predicament that he was in.
A few weeks later he received a response, which simply said:
“Dear sir, in regards to the dandelions on your lawn,
we suggest that your learn to love them.”
Sometimes circumstances in our lives are not how we have planned them,
and are not as we would want them to be.
We cannot always change the way things are,
all we can change is our attitude towards them.
By learning to accept and embrace life as it is, we open the door to discovering
that God uses all our circumstances to reveal His Presence and Blessings to us.
Friday 27th March
He gives energy to the weary, and strength to the powerless.
Even the strong may grow tired, and the young grow weary;
but those who hope in the Lord have their strength renewed.
“When you have done a good job, rest. This is the way to heaven.”
– Lau Tsu
“Sleep is one of God’s angels, you can surrender yourself to it with confidence.”
– Nikos Kasantzakis
Cultivating restfulness is an important part of life,
do we pay it enough attention?
There are many reports and articles around
telling us the importance of rest and recreation,
and also the importance to our health of a good nights sleep.
Poor sleep patterns are detrimental to health and to our energy levels;
poor sleep patterns are also themselves often a tell-tale sign
that that we are stressed, overworked, unhappy or anxious.
How often do we lie in bed going over and over in our heads the day’s woes?
How we end our day is important.
There is no point working late into the evening
and then wondering why we can’t sleep;
we need a cut-off point, and we need a routine or ritual
to wind down and prepare ourselves for sleep.
The evening prayers of Compline are a wonderful way to end a day’s labour,
and to shift down a gear to a more restful time in the day.
For monks and nuns it is the final Office of the day before retiring to bed,
and I believe it is good routine for all of us to get into.
I like to finish the day’s work with the prayers of Compline,
because for me it does mark a change in the day between work and rest.
Once it becomes part of our routine of letting the day go,
and allowing that important shift to take place in our consciousness.
Compline means “to make the day complete”
and I believe it does that by placing the day into God’s hands
and allowing God to prepare us for a good nights rest.
There is a form of Compline you can use at home at the end of this reflection.
How we end the day matters.
If we do not want to use Compline we should create a different ritual
that enables us to move out of work mode into rest,
rather than just leaving it all to chance.
It really does make a difference.
A shortened form of Compline that can be said alone at home
May the Lord grant to us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen
Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us and we are called by thy name
Leave us not, O Lord, our God.
Have mercy upon us, O God, and hearken unto our prayer.
O God, you are my God, for you I long
My soul thirsts for you, like a dry weary land without water.
Your steadfast love is better than life
I will bless you as long as I live.
I will lift up my hands and call upon your name,
My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.
I think of you as I lay upon my bed
I meditate upon you in the watches of the night.
For you have been my help,
In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you
And your right hand upholds me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
Have mercy upon us, O God, and hearken unto our prayer.
Before the ending of the day; creator of the world, we pray.
That thou with wonted love wouldst keep;
thy watch around us while we sleep.
O let no evil dreams be near; nor phantoms of the night appear.
Our ghostly enemy restrain; lest ought of sin our bodies stain.
Almighty Father, hear our cry; through Jesus Christ our Lord most high,
Who with the Holy Ghost and Thee; doth live and reign eternally. Amen.
Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit:
For thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth:
Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of an eye:
Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.
You may wish to end with se of the following prayers:
Be present, O merciful God,
and protect us through the silent hours of this night.
So that we who are fatigued by the changes and chances of this fleeting world
may repose upon thy eternal changelessness;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Visit, I beseech, thee O Lord,
this dwelling, and the dwellings of all my loved ones;
Drive far from them all the snares of the enemy
May thy holy angels dwell within them to preserve us in peace
And may thy blessing be upon us evermore. Amen.
All whom I love, I place in your keeping
All whom I pray for, I place in your keeping
Be with us by day, be with us by night
And as this day closes the eyelids with sleep
Grant that we may rise to the gift of a new day.
God, our Father, the day is over
and the shadows of the night fall softly around us.
We thank you for the blessings of this day,
for the people that we have met,
and for all that as helped us along the way.
For the special moments of joy
that have made our hearts glad;
and for the opportunities we have been given
to share your love with others.
In our saviours name. Amen.
Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord;
And by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers this night;
For the love of thy only Son, our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I place our hands in yours, Lord; I place our hands in yours.
I place our dreams in yours, Lord; I place our dreams in yours.
I place our lives in yours, Lord; I place our lives in yours.
I place our souls in yours, Lord; I place our souls in yours.
May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.