A Season of Prayer
In the 12th century, St Bernard of Clairvaux said, “Spiritual life is like living water that springs up from the depths of our own spiritual experience. In spiritual life everyone has to drink from his or her own well.” Such simple words of wisdom from St Bernard. But it is not always easy to drink from our own well. Why? For most of us and for most of our lives, our days are filled to the brim with things to do.
You may be familiar with the myth of Sisyphus: Sisyphus was a man condemned, for no good reason, to roll a stone up a hill forever. As soon as it reached the top it rolled back down again and he had to return to the bottom and roll it back up. Sometimes it certainly can feel that way for us. Henri Nouwen, Dutch priest and spiritual writer, captures it well: “One of the most obvious characteristics of our daily lives is that we are busy. Our lives often seem like overpacked suitcases bursting at the seams. In fact, we are almost always aware of being behind schedule. There is a nagging sense that there are unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, unrealised proposals. Although we are very busy, we have a lingering feeling of never really fulfilling our obligations.”
Whilst this may be true, there would certainly be a sadness in simply lamenting our lot and leaving it there, because bubbling up through this sense of unfinished tasks and brimful lives there is something else, deeply human – an innate longing for something more, something other, something deeper and more real. And it too cries out for attention. We do long to taste that living water of which St Bernard speaks. For some, this leads to increased busyness as they take on yet more activities designed to reduce stress or provide that much needed break or get-away – and so the suitcase becomes fuller and fuller! But what all religious traditions have been calling us to, with quiet insistence throughout the ages, is something which is not so much an added activity, although there is that too, as a way of being present to life.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator