March 2021 - Rector's Ramblings

Portrait picture of Andrew Doye in the gardenAs I am typing these words, I sit listening to the background accompaniment of Radio 3.   It is a lonely business, today, sitting down to compose something for the magazine.  I am glad of the radio station’s company and consolation.  It helps.   It settles my spirit.

There are some among us who couldn’t proceed to work without music  -  I suspect my dentist is included.   Yet, not everybody finds it an amenable accompaniment.    I wonder: does it inspire you and set your juices flowing?  Or is it unwelcome distraction?    We vary in our needs, and our resourcing.

In fact, as I know, it has to be wordless music for me; and preferably that with which I am relatively unfamiliar.  Otherwise, I begin to sing, and to be swayed by the lyrics, and cannot keep my mind on the task at hand.   I begin to pay more attention to the familiar sounds and rhythms and cadences than I do to my own creative purpose.    And, for all the misleading introduction to this Article, I am amongst those who more often work in silence for that very reason.

Prayer, as a task, challenges us similarly.   

There are those of us whose very way into that discipline is best guided by music: devotional, or otherwise.    This unlocks our hearts and souls; sets flowing the receptivity that is so necessary to deep prayer.   

In contrast, I have always numbered myself amongst those who need silence; who lap it up, and return it, outwards; finding calm in quietness; finding myself.

It is not my purpose to promote one manner of prayer over any other.   Actually what I would say is ‘know yourself’, in and amid your hope to ‘know God’.     And immediately I am struck by the pretentiousness of the very concept of ‘knowing God’.

Prayer and contemplation are deeply precious, at all times.   Lent is no different here; but it is a decent, acceptable thing that we let our attention be drawn to the theme of our ongoing spirituality.   

Resort to ‘the wilderness’  -  whatever that might mean for each of us personally  -  is perhaps one way of allowing attention to that part of our existence which we call prayer.   For most of us, especially this Lent, a geographical wilderness is not possible.  Nonetheless, we can find some time and space.   Maybe, here, wherever you find your wilderness, can be a place of discovery.  

Discovery of those ignored concerns and stirrings: otherwise pushed to the margins or buried out of reach by alternative preoccupations.
Discovery of self: who we really are; why we are living the chaotic lives we often allow; whereabouts love is to be found in our hearts.
Discovery of prayer: a resting, and a sitting (as on a seaside bench); an inner conversation of the gentlest kind (wreathed in love); a ‘rhythm of being’ that we are invited to recognise, and cultivate (that deeper breathing of the soul).

It’s not confined to Lent, of course; but this season is an open invitation to take a stock-check.    And, however you best do that (with music or silence; visual encouragement or eyes gently closed); however you conceive and practise prayer; to listen in to yourself, in listening also unto God.

It’s a special time.    I wish you well.

Andrew Doye               


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