Saturday, 1 June 2013

Reflections from St Beuno's: What I will take away

As my time at St Beuno's draws to a close I have been reflecting on the experiences of the last week.  

When I arrived at St Beuno's I said that one of the things I hoped to get out of the week, was to focus again on God, and reorientate myself to him.  I think over the week this has happened.  

The things that I will take away from me from this time include:

I need to create more space for silence in my life, to cut out some of the noise that can be a distraction from listening to God and listening to others - this includes spending less time on Facebook & Twitter!  I've also come to realise how much I value silence in prayer, and that I need to build more quiet times in my prayer life so I can listen to the still small voice of God.

Prayer for me often feels more like a chore than a pleasure, but during this week I have valued the time I have spent in prayer, and I have been reminded of how important prayer is to me, and how vital it is for my relationship with God.  I hope to create more space in my life for prayer.

Each day I have been given a passage of Scripture to reflect on.  Through imaginative contemplation, as taught by St Ignatius Loyola, it is a way of bringing alive Scripture (particularly the Gospel stories), and a way of praying with the Gospel stories.

Although this is something I've done before, I've found it a helpful way of allowing God to speak to me through the stories, and a useful aid to prayer.

This is the advice given by St Beuno's on imaginative contemplation:

Use a story from scripture that allows you to be part of the action.  As in dreams, you might find interesting and unexpected things come up.

  • Choose a passage and familiarise yourself with the story
  • You are in the presence of God, acknowledge this.  Offer yourself, your time and your imagination to God.
  • Ask God for what you need today, what you desire.This could be for a greater understanding of Jesus, in words such as: Jesus, may I know you clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly.  On the other hand it could be something quiet different such as 'grant me more patience'.
  • Set the scene from your scripture passage.  Take you time, see all that is around, hear, feel, taste, smell.
  • What is the setting of the story in your imagination?  Become a character in the story.  Who are you?  It may be a central character or someone on the sidelines.
  • Let the scene unfold naturally.  You may imagine it in the present day, or 2000 years ago. You may find it includes people you know.  The story might depart from the gospel scene and take on a life of its own.  That's fine, trust God, everything human is appropriate material for prayer.  Let the scene unfold naturally - what feels right.
  • When the story has ended you may want to take in your own words to Jesus or another of the characters.
  • End the pray with a formal prayer like the 'Our Father'.
When you have finished, look back over the prayer.
See how you reacted and felt.
Is this saying anything about you, the way you see others or God?
Did anything surprise you?
Is there anything that needs healing?
Is there anything you need to pray about in future?

I have come to realise that I need to take time for regular 'mini' retreats, going away somewhere for the day to pray, read and reflect.  Ideally this is something I should attempt to do at least once a month.

During this last week at St Beuno's I've enjoyed taking time to read a number of books.  I've realised I need to make time in my diary for regular theological and spiritual reading.

The people who often suffer the most with the lack of my attention is sadly my family.  I've realised that I need to prioritise spending more time with them, this means being more focused when I do work, so I don't waste this time, and end up working during family time (which is what usually happens!)  I realise how blessed I am to have such a loving and supportive family, and want them to have the best of me, not what is left!

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