Response to our situation:
A contemplative perspective
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In light of recent events, we will take a brief break from our series of talks on inner freedom, and explore a response to the situation we currently find ourselves in in South Africa, and in particular here in KZN. We will do this in two parts:

  • Part 1: We will look at what it means that God is our fortress, rock or refuge in times of instability; and

  • Part 2: We will reflect on how we respond in the world from this place of inner stability in God.

I invite you to begin this quiet morning by listening to the following song, on the theme of God as our refuge:

God is our refugeMichael English
00:00 / 03:47

PART 1: Finding refuge in God

In this talk I will be referring to Psalm 62:1-8, so you may want to take some time to reflect on these verses before listening to the talk:

 

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.  

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. 

 

How long will you assault me? 

Would all of you throw me down— this leaning wall, this tottering fence?  

Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. 

With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. 

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  

My salvation and my honour depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

(NIV version)

The following audio track is a guided time of centering into the silent place of refuge in God:

Finding refugeGuided prayer
00:00 / 13:05

Below is the quote used at the end of this guided prayer, from the extraordinary letter from St Francis to St Clare:

My thoughts are in the silence.  There is a great silence within.  When the world is not knocking on my door, there is another door.  God is on the other side.  Slowly this door opens inside and there He is!  Everyday, every time, He is different.  Our Lord has a face of silence.  Endless silence is His smile. His eyes glow with peace.  Such peace it is difficult to look at Him directly.  I wait anxiously watching his mouth.  It does not move. There is not a word spoken.  In the emptiness of the quiet, the silence shapes and forms my mind.  I let go of expectation.  I let go of disappointment.  Love, only love, a special love dressed in peace is overwhelming, present.

 

I have learned something more.  Even though my heart is small, so human, once I go inside the silence of my heart, God extends forever. During the night, my bones rattle.  The pains in my chest come and go.  But I am free, Clare. Freedom is in the silence.

 

The silence washes my soul.  Every part of me is washed.  My Lord is washing my hands, my feet, my face.  Peace is washing all of me.  In the silence, I don't carry anything.  I don't carry any thought. I just try to be.  There is so much God!

 

Clare, on the mountain, minutes are hours which pass into days.  Words disappear.  This world melts away.  There is a Heaven, Clare. Yes, there is a great Heaven.  I find the silence unveiling a greater silence which can only be described as Heaven.

Listen or sing along to the following chant, as a way of receiving Christ's gift of peace:

For a more lively musical experience, you could listen to the remarkable Sr Rosetta Tharpe singing "He's got the whole world in his hands":

PART 2: Our response in the world

The following audio track is a guided heart-opening practice:

Opening our heartsGuided practice
00:00 / 11:12

I invite you to listen to the prayer of St Theresa, as sung by John Michael Talbot:

St Theresa's prayerJohn Michael Talbot
00:00 / 02:35

Lyrics:

Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
With compassion on this world
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good
Yours are the hands,
With which He blesses all the world

Yours are the hands,
Yours are the feet
Yours are the eyes
You are His body

Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
With compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth
But yours

For further reflection

Take some time to prayerfully reflect on the following quote from Albert Camus:

"In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.

In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.

In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.

I realized, through it all, that in the midst of winter,

I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

And that makes me happy.

For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger - something better, pushing right back."

Ending prayer:

I invite you to pray with me along the lines of this prayer:

Place upon all beings

Peace, goodness, blessing,

Grace, loving-kindness and compassion.

 

Bring us to our knees in the face of brokenness.

Let us feel the pain, the suffering of each other.

Let us know it as our own.

 

Bless us all.

 

Help us rise again and again

Into the light of possibilities,

Into the light of sacred presence.

 

Open us to the ways of love,

Generosity and justice,

To the ways of life,

Compassion, kindness and peace.

 

Help us see with humility

And meet each moment with blessing.

 

In the face of all that is,

Call us present

To stand together as one.

 

May our lives be for healing.

May our lives be for peace.

 

Rabbi Yael Levi, from A Way In: Jewish Mindfulness

To conclude this morning's reflections, listen to the following traditional South African song, Thula Sizwe, and feel free to sing (and dance) along:

Thula Sizwe
00:00 / 05:15

Song lyrics:

Thulasizwe ungabokhala 

U Jehova wakho uzokunqobela 

(repeat 3 times)

Inkululeko, inkululeko

u Jehova wakho uzokunqobela

(repeat 3 times)

Thulasizwe…

English translation:

Be still, people, be comforted,

Your Jehovah will protect you

 

Be free, be free,

Your Jehovah will protect you

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