Holy Saturday 11th April 2020

Silent, cold, winter’s morning.
Early, dark, an empty space
before the rush of the day begins.
I’ve fed the cats, taken the dog out,
made coffee, and now sit
in companionable stillness.
Birds begin to sing outside,
soon other sounds will increase.
But, that is then, this is now.
Holy Quiet. Sweet Sacrament Divine.

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                                                  Meditation 40
 
One criticism that is sometimes levelled at meditation is that it is a somewhat selfish way of praying. Meditation often is seen as “naval gazing”, looking out for our own spiritual welfare rather than that of others. While I admit there is a danger for any of us, meditators or not, to become too introspective and to be overly individualistic in our spiritual lives, I do not think the problem lies in meditation itself. I think that being part of a wider worship community is important because it guards against that individualism that sometimes creeps into spirituality. I always maintain that celebrating the Eucharist together is the primary Christian prayer, and that is always with the community of faith. All personal prayer, meditation or otherwise, grows from that. But there are two other responses I would want to make in defence of meditation. Firstly, if we do not look after our own spiritual needs how can we possibly be of any help to others on their own spiritual journey? If we are to reach out with love to others we have to first discover it within ourselves. If we are to forgive others, we have to first learn to forgive ourselves, and if we are to see the face of God in others, we have to first discover it within ourselves. Meditation, or any form of reflective prayer, far from being a selfish practise is a necessary foundation for our service to others, although it is often done on our own it is also done on behalf of others.

Secondly, our meditation is not just a benefit to us it is a benefit to all. We are not merely individuals on this planet, we are a part of each other; we are linked by invisible connections. So what one person does affects what everyone does. One act of kindness, even if it is done anonymously, inspires another act of kindness. Likewise an act of aggression will bring out another act of aggression in someone else. What one person does has an effect on all. So if we sincerely meditate to allow ourselves to be drawn into God’s love, mercy, and grace, we also open those pathways for others. That is why being a monk or nun is not an escape from the world, but a deeper entry into it. The daily round of prayer of the monastics, benefit us all and inspire each of us, in unknown ways, into a deeper life of prayer and love.

So true meditation is neither selfish, nor naval gazing; it is a ministry we enter not only for ourselves but for our community and our world. Meditation is not just an individualistic form of prayer we do on behalf of ourselves, it is a calling that we undertake also for others.