Archive for the ‘prayer and meditation’ Category

Autumn afternoon in Winchester

October 15, 2012
dusk inside Winchester Cathedral

dusk inside Winchester Cathedral

A cold day, a cold north wind, occasional heavy showers. Did I really wish to spend an afternoon in Winchester?

Bus, train to Alton, then bus to Winchester.

Dysfunctional public transport. Time of arrival of train at Alton is same time as the bus departs. As the train pulls in and comes to a stop, the doors open, I leap off the train, run out of the station, leap on the bus and catch it as it is about to pull out. As the bus pulls away, I observe people leaving the station who have just alighted from the train.

The sun is shining as I reach Winchester, and it is warmer than when I set out. I am feeling rough from the bus journey and go for a walk.

Lunch at The Bridge Patisserie, which was something of a disappointment. I can see why they are getting bad reviews on TripAdvisor.

Calamity strikes. I do something wrong on my camera, over a thousand pictures deleted, gone in a blinking of an eye.

I walk along the river. Now cold, no sun.

I look in the bookshop in the back streets behind Winchester Cathedral. A real bookshop. I ask when is Manuscript Found in Accra due out. Something Waterstone’s unable to answer. I assumed some time soon as been coming out all over Europe this week. But no, not until April 2013!

I wonder into Winchester Cathedral Not quite dusk, but soon will be. Dusk is the time to see a mediaeval cathedral at its best.

I light candles for Canon Andrew White, Paulo Coelho, my lovely Russian friend Lena.

Evensong is about to begin.

The choir emerge and sing in the South Transept. It is a song of welcome. The acoustics are amazing. I sit at the foot of a shrine or tomb. I am the only one there.

I follow the choir and sit in the choir stalls for Evensong. It is sung evensong or choral evensong cf spoken evensong.

I had not intended to stay. I do, and as a consequence I miss two buses.

Walking to the High Street I spot a little alley I had not noticed before that leads to a coffee shop.

As I walk down the High Street, I spot a little alley I had not seen before that leads to a pub hidden in the alley.

I catch the last bus.

I once again experience dysfunctional public transport. Train departs Alton ten minutes early Bus arrives as train departs.

Forty minutes wait. I go to Waitrose.

At Aldershot, train arrives two minutes after bus departs. Almost 30 minute to wait for the next bus. I visit a local shop and chat to Nepalese girl serving in the shop.

From leaving Winchester Cathedral, almost three hours until I reach home!


June 22, 2012

Men came from the sea
with their unusual catch –
one hundred and fifty three.
A fire burned on the beach.

They had expected nothing,
now there was a glut,
and also this man waiting.
The charcoal was white hot.

But was the man there?
One moment it seemed so,
the next he was not.
Master, they said, don’t go.

Like thin air shimmering
when powerful heat bakes it,
he continued his waiting.
Indefinite. Definite.

The fire burned on the beach
with their unusual catch.
They had expected nothing.
Now there was too much.

— Andrew Motion

I heard this read a few moments ago by Andrew Motion.

Very moving. It was like hearing something from Khalil Gibran.

Andrew Motion was on the last in the series of Honest Doubt, a series by Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh, talking about religion.

Also featured was Tears in the Rain from the film Blade Runner.

Shame on the BBC that they are not holding this excellent series on-line.

The omnibus edition on BBC Radio 4, 2100 BST tonight.

Andrew Motion explained how he came to write the poem, sitting in church listening to the service.

The relevant text is St John Chapter 21.

I am a farmer of the heart

June 12, 2012
I am a farmer of the heart. -- Rumi

I am a farmer of the heart. — Rumi

I am a farmer of the heart.

— Rumi


June 7, 2012
Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement ...

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement …

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.

— Mahatma Gandhi

Praying for everyone

April 18, 2012


A farm labourer with a sick wife, asked a Buddhist monk to say a series of prayers. The priest began to pray, asking God to cure all those who were ill.

‘Just a moment,’ said the farm labourer. ‘I asked you to pray for my wife and there you are praying for everyone who’s ill.’

‘I’m praying for her too.’

‘Yes, but you’re praying for everyone. You might end up helping my neighbour, who’s also ill, and I don’t even like him.’

‘You understand nothing about healing,’ said the monk, moving off. ‘By praying for everyone, I am adding my prayers to those of the millions of people who are also praying for their sick.

‘Added together, those voices reach God and benefit everyone. Separately, they lose their strength and go nowhere.’

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Reflection on The Nail at St Mark’s

April 4, 2012
reflection on a wooden cross of nails

reflection on a wooden cross of nails

single lit candle

single lit candle

The Pilgrimage - Paulo Coelho

The Pilgrimage - Paulo Coelho

I was at St Mark’s this evening for two reasons:

  • service of devotional reflection on the nail
  • mark Paulo Coelho eight million friends on facebook

You will not find service of nails in a liturgical calender, at least I do not think so, I am no expert on church dates.

For the last few weeks, St Mark’s has been running a book club on The Nail. This evening was a service of reflection and meditation.

How would you have acted if you were one of the following:

  • Peter (who denied)
  • the soldiers (who were only following orders)
  • Pontius Pilate (Roman provincial governor who washed his hands of the whole affair)
  • Caiaphas (High Priest who wished to maintain his status)
  • Judas (who betrayed)
  • the disciples (who ran away and hid)
  • the criminals (who hung on crosses alongside)
  • the crowd (who bayed for blood)

The one group who were not mentioned were the women. The women did not run away and hide, did not deny, did not betray. The women remained with Jesus until the end.

We were asked to each hold a nail, to imagine how we would react?

Would we have driven in the nails if ordered to do so, bayed for blood, run away or denied we knew Jesus, or would we have stood up and challenged what was taking place? Would we have followed religious doctrine and dogma, or would we have listened to our heart?

How we would behave we do not know until we are in a situation.

Last year I had someone try to kill me. I am lucky to be alive.

I would probably speak out, and then be hung on the cross.

How many people reflect on their own lifestyle, the impact it has on those around them?

Do we ask where our food comes from, our clothes? How is it grown, produced?

Slow fashion v fast fashion.

Faded washed out jeans, literally killer jeans. Do we ask of those who are killed to produce the faded jeans, especially when we can get the same look through hard work, not throwing our clothes away every few months, or simply buying second hand jeans?

I resisted the temptation to dig the nail into my hand to focus on the pain, a technique Paulo Coelho describes in The Pilgrimage.

We were also asked to focus on a cross of nails on the floor in front of us. The lit candle represented light, hope, at a time of darkness.

For a future run up to Easter I would suggest ‘I Thirst’.

On Sunday, Paulo Coelho exceeded eight million friends on facebook. By common consensus it was agreed to have 24 hours of prayer and acts of random kindness.

The prayer was at 6pm local time today. I was later than 6pm, but then I do not determine the opening times of St Mark’s

I lit a candle for Canon Andrew White (for his work in Iraq), for Paulo Coelho (thanks for his writing and the wonderful St Joseph’s Day party at which I was his guest last month), Mio Baba (for a wonderful three days together in Bassano del Grappa).

I donated to the church library The Pilgrimage.

A celebration of Holy Week at St Mark’s by the children
Maundy Thursday
The Cross
Mary’s thoughts on her way to Calvary


April 4, 2012
Moments - Paulo Coelho

Moments - Paulo Coelho

Moments, a diary with illustrations by Catalina Estrada and quotes from Paulo Coelho.

Each month opens with a beautiful illustration by Catalina Estrada and a quote from Paulo Coelho.

Each page opens with a quote from Paulo Coelho.

Diaries usually have less space for weekend entries. Moments turns this around and devotes an entire page to Sunday.

If you were at a loss what to give someone for Christmas and you knew they needed a diary, I could not think of anything better than Moments.

Moments seems to have become something of a collectors item, at least going by the prices on Amazon.

  • Moments 2012 – £247.28!

My copy is a personally signed copy to me.

Catalina Estrada designed Scarves for Solidarity. Monies raised go to support Laboratorio del Espíritu, a project in Colombia.

Paulo Coelho talking on Aleph

March 31, 2012

Aleph is the story of loss of faith, of rediscovering that faith on a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Aleph is now available in paperback in UK, in US in June.

Paulo Coelho: How I Write
Paulo Coelho on writing I (followed by parts II, II & IV)

The strength of mountains and the wisdom of water

March 27, 2012
Ponte Vecchio - Bassano del Grappa

Ponte Vecchio - Bassano del Grappa

Lord, bless our week. May we have the strength of the mountain and the wisdom of the water.

— Paulo Coelho

We do not receive wisdom, we discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us.

— Marcel Proust

Orações a São José – St Joseph’s prayers

March 26, 2012
St Joseph prayers - Jane Stewart

St Joseph prayers - Jane Stewart

There cannot be many parties that start with prayers. There cannot be many parties that start with prayers in Portuguese, then in many, many languages.

Exactly one week ago today it was St Joseph’s Day. I was at a party in a Venetian medieval castle, guest of Paulo Coelho.

It was exactly one year, one week, one day to the devastating tsunami that hit Japan.

Very moving prayer from Yumi. She was in tears. I was holding hands with Mio. Mio was in tears. I was in tears.

Even now, watching one week later, I am in tears.

Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Castello Superiore di Marostica