The reading options
As we move deeper into the themes of advent and reflect on what God may be bringing to birth within us and through us, the scripture for this week hints towards God’s way being the path of peace. The good news the angels proclaim to the shepherds at Christmas is news of peace and good will to all.
Spend some time with Isaiah’s joyous message of hopeful peaceful news letting your impressions and reflections rise as before, and then this week I offer you three poems to reflect upon using the same lectio practice that we’ve approached scripture with. Here’s an interesting article on opening to poetry with your whole being that you may find helpful if poetry still holds unpleasant memories of English lessons and pointless line by line dissection or feelings of ‘just not getting it’.
I hope you’ll find it offers some practical tips for how to move beyond any initial confusion, frustration or prejudice.
I suggest that you read each poem through (or I’ve found options for two of them for listening if you prefer that) and then choose one to sink into. You probably will find that writing it out by hand does indeed help to make it your own, and have a go each day, or at moments during your day, reading it through savouring the lines that speak to you. See where your poem takes you, what you find rising into your awareness as you watch and listen for the movement of the soul.
And the Cestello Annunciation by Andrew Hudgins is below. You can find an image of the painting the poet is reflecting on here.
Prompts and wonderings
There are many ways we might lose touch with peace, or indeed, feel like we have never really known or been able to hold on to a sense of peace. I suspect that for most of the developed world at least, peace is understood as a by-product of control: when we have things under control, we are a peace, and when we feel things slipping away from us, our peace vanishes like so much morning dew.
As you reflect on the scripture and the poem that you chose, what do you notice about your own sense of the source of peace, doorways to peace or the flow of peace?
Since we are called to trust in God with the kind of confidence that allows for us to live in the flow of a peace that passes understanding, where does the element of control land or fit for you?
How does that affect your willingness to trust and open to peace?
A returning melody
Like a mantra prayer, listening to a returning melody lets Truth sink below our filtering judgements to water the heart thirsty for peace that passes understanding. The chants from the Taize community in France are intended for this kind of prayer. There are hundreds of these to choose from, so if Da Pacem Cordium (Give peace in every heart) doesn’t draw you in, have a listen to some others to find what you need. You can listen from youtube, or you can download from apple music/spotify and put on repeat while you walk, drive, pray, cook, mow the lawn, do laundry, fall asleep etc.
A sticky prayer
Write this prayer from Rabbi Rami Shapiro out on several sticky notes and put them on places where you’ll be surprised as you come across them during the day.
After a few days, move them to new spots so that you are surprised again.
Maybe be courageous and put some up at work….
Enveloped in Your Light, may I be a beacon to those in search of Light.
Sheltered in Your Peace, may I offer shelter to those in need of peace.
Embraced by Your Presence, so may I be present to others.
A flowing nudge
As you go through your day, whenever you notice a move toward anxiety and a loss of peace, or a move to judgement (of self or others) and a loss of grace, put your hand over your heart and silently speak words of peace and compassion. Imagine how your dearest friend might comfort you, and then simply offer yourself that same compassion and empathy.
Try one of these: ‘Kind heart’; ‘Friend’; ‘Peace be with you’, or find one that fits for you.