Friday, 28 September 2007

Day 5 the last day of Fasting

An extra long blog to make up for my absences
Okay it's day 5 spiritually and physically cleansed I know longer have cravings... which is why I am spending my lunch time down here writing my blog and not in the cafeteria where it is chocolate biscuit and real coffee day and what do you know someone put on a lunch.

Actually this has been a really powerful experience for me. After three days of headaches and withdrawl, an extremely unbiblical attitude to my co workers, and general lethargy, Thursday and Friday have been my most productive and thought provoking in some time. Of course I am not sure that what I produce makes sense and I may next week look at the course outline I have been designing and cringe but it feels okay. It has been important I think to take this time and to dedicate it to this course which hopefully is going to run over the next four Wednesday nights. The course is called:

"Into the Wilderness - A prayer meditation series on the early Desert Mothers and our journeys of encounter in the urban wilderness" at Theology House.

I say 'going' to run because I am not sure if we have the numbers to go ahead with it.
Here is the intro and outline.

For centuries men and women have journeyed into the desert in search of the divine. Here you are invited to explore the urban desert as we take time out to actively cultivate
a burning love relationship with God.

Across time these deeply soulful women, full of passion, insight, caring, (and occasional divine madness), reach out, to us in ways disturbingly relevant to today. Through their stories, sayings, prayers & meditation we’re invited into the world of the Desert Mothers .

Session One
Into the Wilderness – How on earth did I get here?
In this session we look at how the remarkable women of the 4th and 5th Century came to the barren places, and how we too, by accident, calamity or design, find ourselves entering the fertile wasteland
of the soul.

These women entered the wilderness re-calling through cleansing, acts of compassion, fasting, and prayer that which was of the greatest importance, the real work - the work of the soul.

Today is not that different, through the traffic jams and meetings God calls us to enter the desert, to remove that which gets in the way of our love relationship. Our desert may look radically different but still we are called to re-prioritize, to return to the centre.

Session Two
Hymns to the Silence - Is there anybody Out there?
In this session we hear of the some of the experiences of women in the wasteland and look at what happens when we give ourselves over to the possibility of silence.

Amma Matrona said “We carry ourselves wherever we go and cannot escape temptation by mere flight,” this 5th Century Desert Mother knew the women who came to her for guidance well. The act of meeting oneself was essential in the life of the Desert Mothers. Facing up to oneself was not (as is so often today) obtained through the noise of continual dialogue, but by letting go into the silence.

In this fertile ground of waiting on God in silence and prayer one came face to face with their raw selves. For some This was a place of madness, for others of joy, loneliness, temptation, doubt, and abject terror. To come up against oneself, was to face ones transgressions and place them before God.

Session Three
If You remember me — Did I ever really know you?
In this session we are encouraged to look at how we do or don’t encounter and experience God. We will hear the remarkable stories of faith and encouragement from women who spent their lives serving and waiting on God. Amma Sarah said “If I prayed God that all people should approve of my conduct, I should find myself a penitent at the door of each one, but I shall rather pray that my heart may be pure toward all.”

The experience of God is different for each of us. When faced with ourselves, the
temptation is often to bolt rather than stand under the gaze of the divine and be open the challenge of experiencing God anew. How the Desert Mothers related and communicated with God was just as varied and challenging. The records of their time spent in prayer and reflection has left us with a rich legacy of insight and inspiration on the work of the soul.

Session Four
Coming Back to you -Where to now?
In this final session we reminded of the words of Amma Syncletica who said “imitate the publican, and you will not be condemned with the Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water.”

After gathering for an agape meal we will gather in prayer. Here to focus on the words of Amma Syncletica reflecting on those places within us both the rock and spring of water.

Our own urban wilderness awaits us. Not just concrete and high rises not just meetings
and business, but rich and abundant ground for us to reflect, refresh and engage in the
continual act of coming back to God.

At this point you look in shock realising that this is just what you have always been looking for! and rush off to enroll at theology house.

Actually scurrilous advertising aside even if this doesn't happen there has been something powerful in returning to these women over this week. At one point I was caught with the image of a family meeting for the last time with their daughter before she went to the desert and I felt humbled really at my winging and pettiness and at their strength of faith. 5 days nothing really.
and this was what I wrote (post fast I may look in horror and remove you never know). I kept thinking about for all the thousand of women who went into the desert in search of God how we have so little. How many of them dried up and blew away on the wind. Gone within two generations.

They hardly remembered I was here.
And that was my own family.
One Brief visit from my father, proud somewhere?
Confused yes!
The leader of our family
unsure with me now.
His little girl KHaB'iYB,T'Y D'B,aRT,oA
whose motivations he can not condemn,
but out here, in me, there is no place for him.

Out here, there is no power but god and silence,
sun and the wind.
He no longer has a way to control me,
or indeed to wrap me in those safe meaty arms
and make me giggle like a child.
Never again will I hear him call me
the sweetness of light,
or to feel his snores bounce of walls-
Our mother joking when we grumbled
‘At least I know where my husband is at night’

They hardly remember I was here
My mother, just cried when she came,
and I cried too
tears deep and wide.
My father joked ‘we had broken the drought’ -
my mother and I’
that my family need no longer pray for rain
But we knew the taste of last
We kissed tears off each other
Whispered and laughed
Tried somewhere, hurriedly in the remembering of family stories,

to let each other know that they were loved,
vital even
at first…
before he came.
We tried to hold on to the colour of each others eyes
To clutch the feeling of skin as we rubbed each others hands over and over,

so cool on such a warm day.
In the end, no more to say
Just breathe deep,

capture and hold the fragrance of each other.

Before silence
I hear them as they weave there way down the valley
My father chiding my mother
Telling her she 'should be proud,
if it wasn't a sin'
His voice lurching between annoyance and placation
His last words telling her to stop looking back
least she be renamed Ildeth
and he end up with a pillar of salt for a wife.

Blessings to all fellow fringedwellers from the urban wilderness



Anonymous said...

Five days ...are you mad?
I can't go day!

The course sounds really good, makes me think about my own wilderness really.


Anonymous said...

Amazing work and congratulations to you for seeing it through. The clarity and purpose is truly amazing and one that many people cannot achieve without the fast. Keep it real, onwards we will travel to our ultimate goal.