Lancashire Methodist District

WEEKLY MEDITATION


Christian meditation
Meditation may deepen one's experience of the presence of God, enhance self-awareness, and reduce stress and anxiety, valuable during this time of isolation.

Join a half-hour Zoom 'guided meditation' session, led by Peter Lumsden (Local Preacher in the Clitheroe Circuit), every Monday evening at 7.00 pm.

The sessions follow a pattern of 15 minutes of spiritual reflection, combined with a focus on breathing, leading into a period of about 15 minutes of silence.

Contact Peter Lumsden: pjlumsden58@gmail.com


Monday 15th August 2022



“Listen carefully, my daughter, my son, to my instructions and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it and faithfully put it into practice.” —Prologue, The Rule of St. Benedict

The first word of The Rule of St. Benedict isn’t pray, worship, or even love. It’s listen.

Compassionate listening: Richard Rohr contrasts the rather aggressive 'I disagree with you', with a more reflective, “Richard, did I understand what you were saying?” and repeat back to me their perception of what I said. Normally then I can clarify, or perhaps admit that I have communicated poorly or am, in fact, incorrect. When we can listen and respond in that way, each person is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of God. Each person feels heard, and misunderstandings are clarified compassionately. If we are incapable of hearing others, we will also be incapable of hearing God. If we spend all day controlling and blocking others, why would we change when we kneel to pray?

Scan your body, heart, mind, and notice where you are. Let go of things done, and things yet to do. Watch as thoughts come and go - imagine them as a leaf or feather, settling, or floating away.

Courageous listening: today we rarely meet with, let alone converse with, those with whom we disagree. Yet as we confront the polarisations in society, do we not need to be able to do this? Sikh activist Valarie Kaur has made a commitment to listen to those with whom she disagrees. Here she describes some of the practices that make it possible:

It turns out it is extremely difficult to draw close to someone you find absolutely abhorrent. How do we listen to someone when their beliefs are disgusting? Or enraging? Or terrifying? . . . An invisible wall forms between us and them, a chasm that seems impossible to cross. We don’t even know why we should try to cross it. . . . In these moments, we can choose to remember that the goal of listening is not to feel empathy for our opponents, or validate their ideas, or even change their mind in the moment.

Our goal is to understand them. . . .when listening gets hard, I focus on taking the next breath. I pay attention to sensations in my body: heat, clenching, and constriction. I feel the ground beneath my feet. Am I safe?

If so, I stay and slow my breath again, quiet my mind, and release the pressure that pushes me to defend my position. I try to wonder about this person’s story and the possible wound in them. I think of an earnest question and try to stay curious long enough to be changed by what I hear.

Maybe, just maybe, my opponent will begin to wonder about me in return, ask me questions, and listen to my story. Maybe their views will start to break apart and new horizons will open in the process. . . . Then again, maybe not. It doesn’t matter as long as the primary goal of listening is to deepen my own understanding. Listening does not grant the other side legitimacy. It grants them humanity—and preserves our own

LISTEN, from Salt of the Sound https://saltofthesound.bandcamp.com/.../listen-instrumental (under license)

NB - NO Monday sessions for the last two weeks of August


In peace


Peter