The sudden and complete shutdown of our churches in response to the Coronavirus crisis has come as a great shock to many and left people feeling at a loss. The clergy and others are working on new and imaginative ways of keeping us in touch, but what can we do at home on our own to feel we are still part of a worshipping community?
As it happens the history of Ealing Abbey provides an answer which is already familiar to many of our parishioners. A former monk of the abbey, Fr. John Main (1926-1982) discovered for himself, and then taught to others, a simple way of prayer which may seem at first surprising and unfamiliar, but has roots that go back to the beginnings of prayer in the monastic tradition and to Christ himself. It is unfamiliar only because the Church lost sight of it in more recent times. For the last fifty years or so this way of what is called contemplative prayer has been revived and is growing all over the world – especially where people simply want to know God.
John Main and his disciple Laurence Freeman founded a new religious community in Montreal with meditation at the centre of its life. That has since developed into the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) found in almost every country – a monastery without walls.
The most important thing to know about meditation is to how to do it, so here is the usual format it is suggested we follow:-
Meditation is simple, but not easy, as we are all distracted most of the time, and soon discover how difficult it is to lay aside our many thoughts and feelings. But with practice and perseverance it can yield rich spiritual rewards and bring a new dimension to one’s prayer life. And it is for everyone: young (children can meditate and like it!), old, new Christians, experienced older hands, those returning to their faith, anyone at all who just wants to get to know God more. Especially at present it can be a way of living through our enforced isolation by being part of an invisible, but very real worldwide community.
Now that you have the time when not try it for yourself? There are ample resources to help and encourage you on the websites: wccm.org and christianmeditation.org.uk. I will also be glad to respond to any questions or comments. (firstname.lastname@example.org)