Creative Contemplation in a Time of Crisis

“But we have this treasure in clay jars… this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

We are living through challenging and uncertain times, and the enforcement of social distancing, meaning that people are spending much longer alone than usual adds another difficulty that we have to cope with. So often in times of anxiety or sorrow our first instinct is to draw close to those we love and yet this is being denied to us, at least in a tactile, physical sense. Thankfully, many people are able to find ways to connect through the internet and the various possibilities that opens up for us. Reaching out in this way is instinctive for those who have grown up with the internet as a source of information, entertainment, social connection. Those of us who have come to the world-wide web later in life can also be glad of these things, and now, perhaps more than usual, we can also find spiritual resources online.

Yet if this is the only way that we connect I wonder whether we might be missing a valuable opportunity? Throughout the ages the saints and mystics have sought times of solitude and isolation in order to journey more deeply in their relationship with God. Solitude is challenging because it reveals our vulnerabilities and our need to connect with something bigger than ourselves. Often social contact and other networks of work, leisure and fellowship fulfil that need, but there is

something beyond all these things – the underlying presence of God, who is the source of life itself. What if we came through this season of uncertainty and loss with a renewed spiritual life and awareness of God’s presence, not only ‘out there’, but also deep within? With this question in mind, I have prepared a short series of meditations inspired by St Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Christians at Corinth. The series is called ‘In Jars of Clay’ and introduces people to interior silent prayer through awareness of the body, the breath and the use of guided imagery inspired by Scripture. I hope you will find it helpful – do let me know how you get on.

Rachel Michael (rachelmichael@stjohnsisleworth.org.uk) The sessions are available to listen to as YouTube videos, or sound files are also provided for you to download. See below for further details