A reflection on beginning new or regular tasks. I preached this sermon to staff at the beginning of a school year. It is brief and has some inspiring quotations from Eliot and Rilke
John 1:43-51New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
This call of Jesus to his disciples reminds us that there is a deep call from outside and within ourselves to find who it is we are meant to be, and what we are to do and create in the world.
It is an invitation to follow me/ to come and see/ to allow yourself to be known/ to get to know your deep self /to experience great things/ and to be sent to experience the creativity of things opening up, as you engage your calling to young people.
To be beginning– we are all once again at the beginning, but in a fresh and new way. I haven’t had so many school dreams for a long time. I am sure they have kept you turning in your sleep, despite your vast experience. Perhaps the psyche throws us into turmoil, so that we may find our groundedness, our centre.
I am amazed that after all my journeyings, that I am standing in as the Chaplain for at least a term. My life has come full circle.
When I looked at the memorial garden next to the Brooke Chapel – I was surprised to discover that I knew the names, and had met many of the people. As I walk around I discover many ghosts and memories of people and things past.
But this journey that Jesus calls us to is never circular, it is rather spiral. Dante knew that. We are always seeing similar things from a different road on the journey- that is why we can be a problem and a blessing to young people, and even our children.
It is good that we pause before we rush into the New term- school’s are busy places. It is important that we find the stillness and the calm at our centre, and that in all we do to come back to it even amidst the storms ahead.
At the still point of the turning world
There the dance is. Except for the point, the still point,
there would be no dance,
and there is only the dance
T S Eliot
We take a deep breath, exhale – let go into the hands of a trusting God who has called us to do this work
I love the following two poems of Rainer Maria Rilke an Austrian by birth who found himself in a Russian monastery at the turning of the 18th century to that of the 19th. Of course there were many doom-mongers about as there were at the turning of the millennium.
Rilke 1800 -1900 From: The Book of the Monastic life
The hour is striking so close above me,
So clear and so sharp,
That all my senses ring with it.
I feel now: there’s a power in me
To grasp and give shape to my world.
I know that nothing has ever been real
Without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
They come toward me, to meet and be met.
The second poem speaks of the challenge and the way forward
I live my life in widening circles
That reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
But I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years
And I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
A storm, or a great song?
I live my life in widening circles – But I give myself to it and my looking, ripens things. The way we observe and approach things, matters, and changes things, certainly in us. The approach and attitude we bring to people and things makes a huge difference in the world.
How good if all this emanates from an inner joy. I like to think that at our best we are part of a great song, part of something bigger than ourselves.
May those we serve, these young people, see through us to a centre of a great goodness, a wonderful openness and humanity, the kind of humanity we see in Jesus, and which Jesus saw in Nathaniel and was able to say: “‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree.”
Prayer of St Theresa
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that
has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
Flame-dancing Spirit, come
Sweep us off our feet and
Dance us through our days.
Surprise us with your rhythms;
Dare us to try new steps, explore
New pattern and new partnerships;
Release us from old routines
To swing in abandoned joy and
Fearful adventure. And
In the intervals
In your still centre.