Tuesday, 17 June 2014


This week I went into the school chapel. I found there a large silver bowl into which I had poured sand during Lent. It had not been touched since and the sand had gone hard and heavy. The bowl had been intended as the receptacle of many prayers for family, friends and loved ones during the season of Lent. But, it had never been used.

In Lent, after a long discussion with those in charge of such things, it was decided that to have unsupervised devotional candles in Chapel was a bad idea. Instead, ordered to my pigeon hole, came small battery operated tea lights that could be neatly placed before the altar.

Fake Candles.

Something about this bothered me. But, I am not about to start a revolution. I can see the health and safety point. However, prayer for me is not electronic. It is elemental, real. The tools for prayer are tools through which I can reflect on the presence of the divine incarnate in this world: earth (posture), air (breathing), fire (inspiration) and water (reminder of my baptism, calling to serve). A fake candle was about as far from real inspiration as I could get. 

Still there were other elements I could include in a safe environment that could bring the beating heart back to prayer: wood, salt, bread, wine. Therefore, Lent passed without me making too much of a fuss. I was touched by the number of small flickering electrics lights were turned on each day, and even had to change some batteries.

Soon we will arrive at the Feasts of the Sacred Hearts. I am reminded of it by the turn of the liturgy to Pentecost and Trinity, and by my dreams. Perhaps you will remember an odd dream I had of a party, with Jambalaya and Rose, music, dancing, good company and a green ring. That dream was about friendship, love and vocation I suppose, although I never really understood it. Well, the ring is back in recent dreams, shiny and green as it ever was. Last night I was travelling on pilgrimage (walking), and then by bus with a group, some were friends, but others i did not know. There was a man there wearing the ring (no longer Timothy Radcliffe TBTG), but I did not know where he was leading. I was happy and content to follow along, not afraid anymore. I was sometimes silent and taking in the view, sometimes talking to others, always keeping my eye on the diamond green.  My dreams are like a serial novel, I am always waiting for the next episode. I look forward to the next instalment.

Ironically, I do not put great stock by dreams. I would rather write about reality, the way things are in flesh and blood, than hark on about the imaginings within the dark recesses of my mind.

I am haunted by the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Do not run away. I am not mad. But, in my dreams and day dreams I often see them in my mind's eye. On the occasions when I struggle to sleep, in my mind, it is to the chapel of the Sacred Heart I walk, stand, wonder, pray. None of this is that unusual I do not suppose, some people lie awake and count sheep, some stare at stars, I go walking. All my little mental trips to the heart of the divine have the same theme: God and faith occupy messy everyday reality. Hearts beat in flesh and blood, they need earth, air, fire and water to begin; bread and wine to continue. If the Feasts of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are about anything they are about how special the love of Christ and His Mother is. Special not because they are separate from the fundamental basics of everyday living, those elements that make us real, but because they are part of them.

I suspect that is way I was bothered by the fake candles. Fire is elemental. You cannot deconstruct it, take it apart, turn it off and on again. For me, prayer is elemental too. Basic, not complicated: 'My heart is restless, O God, until it rests in you'  - Augustine

No comments: