Rhythm, Solitude and Creation with Ray Simpson. I took these notes in a class that Ray Simpson took at the Surrender 15 conference on Saturday the 21st March at 4.00pm. Just reading this again I am reminded of how far I wander from these profound principles that when followed bring peace and calm and rest.
Ray Simpson is the founding guardian of the community of Aidan and Hilda. He is an ordained Anglican Priest who lives on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in England, the cradle Island of Christianity in Great Britain. He has been there for nearly 20 years where he runs retreats for pilgrims, and consults on church renewal strategies. He is the author of number of best-selling books on Celtic Spirituality, new monasticism and patterns of prayer.
Rhythm, Solitude and Creation
Deep in every human heart is a longing.
Most people don’t have a name for this longing, so they look for substitutes. The problem is that the substitutes don’t work.
“Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you”. Augustine.
How does our heart become one with God? We connect to the heart of God, creation and the contemporary world through the rhythms of prayer, contemplation and solitude. These are the three things that unite us with God.
The garden of Eden is a parable that we can use to model rhythm. We are supposed to walk and talk with God in rhythm with creation. It is the default programme that the creator built into us and we have taken it out.
Rhythm has been built into the universe and we are now disconnected from it. We are disconnected because of: business, ego, work, screens, disconnection from land and country, 24 hour working conditions and many more.
Many religions like the Jews and Muslims are disciplined to pray in rhythm and at set times. We can also do this. It doesn’t have to be difficult. We can use the rhythms that we already have like: getting out of bed, having lunch, going to bed at night.
In the morning when we get out of bed we can pray mindfully.
As I wake today
As I get up today
I rise in peace
I rise in hope
I rise in love
As the sun rises we can also let the awareness of God rise in our hearts.
Personally, every morning when I wake I say something like this:
“Good morning Lord, I love you. I commit this day into your hands. Will you help me today? Im not sure that I can do this day without you. Will you lead and guide me?”
Sense God, acknowledge him in the morning.
Pause at sometime in the middle of the day.
You may be on the toilet or in the bathroom at work. “Lord be with me in the middle of the day, I trust you”.
At night as you lie down.
“I lie down this night with God. And God will lie down with me”.
The bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” Eph 4:26. This also means don’t let the sun go down on your unprocessed material. Don’t let it build up. Reflect on the day, be mindful of what happened in the day and reconcile it. Make it right before God. Go to bed in peace rather than unresolved.
This is called ‘intentional rhythm’.
We also need time to be cut off from distraction and awareness. Most of us are over-connected, overstimulated. We need rhythms, times and seasons where we withdraw. Jesus often withdrew to the mountain, to the desert, to the boat.
In Hebrew, the word ‘shalom’ is holistic. It encompasses peace, wholeness of both mind and body. In our western society we have separated mind and body through dualism. We need to allow Jesus to heal the split between our mind and body. So that we are healthy and whole.
The journey into solitude is very important. God is deep within us. We have this Gold in each one of us. The deepest thing within us is the light of God. Silence is like God. Yet silence can disturb us in the very un-silent world. Modern society is so terrified of silence that it drowns itself in noise. It is in solitude that we reach God. Become one with God. Become one with heaven.
Go into your room alone, write out all your thoughts , park them. Face your inner demons. Test your thoughts. Test them by the beatitudes.
Is it loving?
Is it merciful?
Is it kind?
“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”. Romans 1:20
Gods invisible qualities are seen and understood in creation. Jesus urges us to be watchers of creation. He uses parables of seed, weeds, wheat, fish, birds, trees, sheep , etc. He uses creation to point the way to God.
“The heavens declare the Glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of HIs hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge.” Psalm 19:1,2
Patterns, rhythms, cycles, seasons, tides, life and death. The cycles and rhythms of life are all found in creation yet we have become so disconnected from creation that we fail to see the therapeutic value and healing that creation has to offer. We also forget that we can glean understanding about who God is and what He is like by looking at creation. His creativity, His wonder, His magnificence, His infinite care, His precise and miraculous balance and harmony in all of these cycles and rhythms.
When we spend time in nature, on the land, outside, on a beach, on a moor, in a field on a mountain, we are connected to the bigger picture and are invigorated and enlivened by the source of life. When I walk on a beach I find myself bursting into spontaneous praise and worship I get so excited and invigorated. I am refreshed and revitalised immediately.
- Why don’t you practise a simple intentional daily rhythm so that you take God with you all through the day.
- Learn to put time aside to spend in solitude so that you can sort through the deep things of the heart.
- Make sure that you spend time in creation. If you don’t like to attend a church, attend the cathedral of creation and learn about the creator there.
Celtic Blessings: Prayers for Everyday Life
Daily Light from the Celtic Saints: A Year’s Worth of Ancient Wisdom to Bring New Meaning to Modern Life
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