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Showing posts from May, 2012

Dark Night of the Soul

The Dark Night of the Soul is a poem written by the 16th century Spanish mystic, John of the Cross. Some time after its composition he wrote a treatise in which he expands on each line of the poem. The treatise has become one of the great classics of Christian contemplation In a tradition going back to The Song of Songs, the poem uses the metaphor of erotic love to describe the progress of the soul on the journey to union with God. The following is a translation of the original Spanish. Loreena McKennitt's version is her own paraphrase, altered in parts for musical reasons. 1. One dark night, fired with love's urgent longings - ah, the sheer grace! - I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled. 2. In darkness, and secure, by the secret ladder, disguised, - ah, the sheer grace! - in darkness and concealment, my house being now all stilled. 3. On that glad night, in secret, for no one saw me, nor did I look at anything, with no other light or guide


It's nearly the end of a silent retreat I have been making this week. We have had the last of our talks from the retreat master, David Moore, Vicar of St. Luke's in Christchurch, had our last silent meal and it now feels over enough that I can write this and talk to any other retreatants who happen into the room. At the start of any serious prayer I always have a prologue; a sort of introductory mini prayer in which I reflect on what exactly I am wanting from this imminent contact with God; a short place where I ask for any appropriate graces for the time to come. At the start of this retreat then, I asked that God would use the time as God wished and that I not get in the way. God seems to have taken me at my word. The first night I went to bed soon after 8 and slept until 7. I meditated for as long as my knees would allow. I went for an hour's walk every day. I took the Eucharist and attended morning prayer. David has been a superb retreat leader, giving beautifully

What Are You Doing Here?

It was snowing on the Kilmog when I drove North last Monday, but by the time I reached Oamaru the sky was clearing and the temperatures were rising. By the time I got to Wainui on Banks Peninsula it was a clear, settled summer's afternoon. Pathetic communion . That's the fancy name for the literary device whereby weather and other environmental conditions reflect the emotional import of the narrative. Which is a long winded way of saying that much and all as I love my diocese, it has been, what with one thing and another, quite a busy time of late and it was good to get out for a few days.I went North to lead a clergy conference for the Diocese of Christchurch, so I was not really on holiday or retreat or anything like that, but I drove home late on Thursday feeling unexpectedly refreshed. The issues facing Christchurch are immense. Much of their physical infrastructure is badly damaged or totally AWOL. People are tired after a long period of living in a world which will n