Sunday 29th March 2020

Day 33   The Hidden Self

 There are two dimensions to who we are. There is what I think of as the created self, and there is the hidden self. The created self is what we see and understand about ourselves. The created self is made up of our ancestral genes, life’s experiences, traumas, joys, our upbringing and all the breaks and knocks that life has brought our way. It is also influenced by certain choices we have made in life, though even the choices we make are often determined by life’s experience.

The hidden self is the beautiful Soul created by, and at one with, God. The Buddhists call it our Original Face; St Paul calls it our Hidden Self: May the Father in his infinite glory give you power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong. (Ephesians 3). It is our true selves hidden in Christ. The spiritual journey is about becoming more and more open to that hidden self, where God’s fullness dwells; and opening our created selves to allow that holy presence to shine and to become a greater influence in our lives. The Anglican solitary, Maggie Ross, talks about our lives becoming transfigured; when the hidden self grows strong our whole being becomes transfigured through love.

That hidden self grows strong through prayer, the flow of Christ’s Presence in our lives. The praying of the mantra is a wonderful way of keeping our hearts open to that flow of prayer and for our hidden self to begin to emerge in our daily lives and activities. Bit by bit it allows us to begin to respond to what occurs, to what life brings our way, prayerfully through love; rather than merely reacting to it through our old created responses. The problem is that it is easy to go through life thinking we are only our created self, unaware of this beautiful hidden self that is waiting to flower and flourish. Prayer is about allowing God to reveal it, and to help us to see ourselves in each other in all our fullness.

I always think that praying our mantra acts like a magnet that draws out that hidden self, and allows God’s grace to help it grow stronger and increasingly influential in our lives. We need to be reminded constantly that we are much more than we believe we are, the mantra is a powerful way  to do this.

                                                        …………………………..

This morning as I knelt in prayer
I sensed, rather than heard,
God speaking my eternal name
in the very depths of my being.
Like a vibration, a pulse,
the resonance of a tuning-fork.
My soul quivering into focus
and revealing dimly, as through a veil,
a momentary glimpse or glance
of my original face and feature.
Both name and face
have faded into the mists
of space and time –
But now I know I am more than this.

++++++++++++++++++

Refection for Passion Sunday – Lent 5

This Sunday is the 5th Sunday of Lent and is commonly known has Passion Sunday. It is the Sunday in Lent when we really begin to shift our focus on to Holy Week, which begins next weekend with Palm Sunday. Last Sunday was the celebration of Mothering Sunday, and this Sunday calls us to begin to change gear as we move our attention to the events of Holy Week and Easter.

Of course, this year all that is very different for us. Last Sunday, when the church should have been full for Mothering Sunday, public worship was suspended, and the best we could do was to spend a little time in church outside of worship, though most were being advised to stay indoors. This Sunday we are in an even stronger lock down and our churches are completely closed to the public. It is one of the strangest times that most of us will have experienced.

Having missed our worship on Mothering Sunday, and knowing we will not be able to attend church during Holy Week and Easter, feels sad and depressing. Along with that we are hearing so many stories of people acting selfishly, of things getting worse, of how long all this might last etc. These are very trying times indeed.

But if there is one thing that the Holy Week and Easter message gives, it is hope. God can create incredible love out of a seemingly dire situation, and it is very important at this time for us to hold on to that hope; and to share stories of hope. The gloom hits us in the face every time we turn on the Television and watch the news, or read, or listen to it. But beneath the gloom there is hope, there is love, there is good news.

In the Gospel reading I have sent out in this mailing, Jesus reminds his listeners that he has been sent to proclaim good news, to proclaim liberty, to open our eyes, to set us free from despair. There is good news in the midst of all the bad, there is hope in the midst of the gloom, there is light in the midst of the darkness. Jesus encourages us to open our eyes and hearts to see.

I have heard and witnessed a number of stories in our own community that has made my heart sing. People going out of the way to help others, small acts of kindness that have made a massive difference to people. We need to focus on such moments and celebrate them – because in them God is speaking to us. God is sharing all the sadness and sorrow with us, but is also pointing us to the hope and light that lies beyond.

I want to share one story that a member of my congregation shared with me. They were short on loo roll and, of course, it was in short supply in our shops. While out and about they spotted some and went to buy it. At the till they realised they had not brought enough money with them to pay, but a complete stranger in the queue bought it for them. Life is not all doom and gloom there is much to celebrate and say thank you for. There is the Good News that Jesus reminds us of. It is happening right here, right now.

You may remember a few years ago we did a Lent course on Gratitude, and I encouraged you to keep a Gratitude Diary, and to write in it something each day for which you are thankful, some Good News you have witnessed or experienced. I encourage you now to keep a Gratitude Diary during this current difficult period. Every day write something in it, just one thing that has made your heart glad, given you hope, encouraged you, and got you through. Make sure you read it at night just before you turn in for sleep, and end the day on a joyful, thankful note. It is not about pretending that these times are not difficult and hard, but that there is love, joy, hope, and the grace of God in the midst of it.