Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
This week we studied different forms of prayer on our Course in Christian Studies, Lectio Divina, the Jesus prayer, the Daily Office and Ignatian prayer were suggested. Taking the last example, St Ignatius said that we should place ourselves in a Gospel story, either as a spectator or a participant, to absorb the sounds and smells of the scene. Then we should ask ourselves, what would I say to Jesus and what might He say to me? I have always had difficulty with this type of prayer. After all, the message is in the Gospel. What more could I say to Jesus? Again, what more could He say to me that is not written in the Bible already? Chris said that she had taken Zacchaeus encounter with Jesus as the basis for her prayer.(Luke 19:1-10) After the session had finished I thought about Ignatian prayer again. Was there something that I had missed?
Strangely, at this point,in my mind's eye, the scene changed to a Scottish seaside resort in the 1950's where a friend and I had stopped for the night on our tour of the Western Isles. That evening after a good dinner we took a walk along the seafront. There was a preacher, in fine voice, proclaiming the Gospel message to a small crowd huddled before him on the beach. There being nothing else to do that evening; the pubs and just about everything else was closed in Scotland on Sundays in those days, we stopped to listen. I don't remember now what he preached but at the end of his service he invited people to come forward to take one of his tracts. For whatever reason, and at the time I couldn't tell you why, I came forward to take one. I couldn't explain the reason to my friend when he asked why; I just felt impelled to do so. Fast forward sixty years and I can now see that just as Jesus invited Zacchaeus down from the tree in which he had been hiding, so Jesus using the preacher, but more importantly the Gospel was inviting me to come down from the sea wall. "I need to spend some time with you" Jesus said to Zacchaeus. In the same way He was telling me that He wanted to spend some time with me. How wonderful is that?
Did that encounter change my life as his encounter with Jesus changed Zacchaeus? I think so although I did not recognize it at the time. You see, for all these years that incident has lain hidden deep in my memory to surface now; to remind me how powerful Ignatian prayer can be. Why not give it a try sometime? I certainly will.
I am an Authorised Local Preacher in an Anglo Catholic parish church, in the Diocese of Essex UK