‘Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.’ Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61)
Pre pandemic, the thought of going on a Quiet Day offered a few hours of respite from the busyness of life. There was the discipline of identifying a date in the diary, the search for a place of retreat, making a booking along with sorting the arrangements for the day in both parish and family life. On the morning of the Quiet Day, there was the joy of waking to a feeling of spaciousness: no emails, no phone calls, no meetings – only a focus on the divine invitation to sit with God. Packing a bag for departure was in itself an act of open-hearted expectation: a bible, a notebook, a pen, crayons for drawing, something spiritual to read, a picnic to savour. There was a keen anticipation that the temporary setting aside of daily responsibilities and the change of scene would feed the soul.
Fast forward into this third lockdown and the prospect of a Lenten Quiet Day on Zoom is quite different. Firstly of course it has to take place within the confines of our own homes. There will be no change of scene unless we rearrange the furniture! There are echoes in every room of people and conversations, of meals and laughter, of struggles and joy, of grief and celebration. A Quiet Day on Zoom will not be so much a moving away from the stuff of daily life, rather an acknowledgement that our response to God is woven in and through the events of daily life. We may wish to make a focus for prayer: a cross, an icon or a candle. Yet as we listen to our speaker, pray, reflect and read the bible, as we listen to music or express ourselves creatively, there will be no sense of escape. Both the challenge and the joy will be in the opportunity to integrate our physical and spiritual lives perhaps in surprising new ways.
The gift of a Quiet Day on Zoom in lockdown might be the realisation afresh that the love, mystery and presence of God is to be found in the holiness of our homes as well as in the silent sacred spaces of our world.
Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector
To book for the Lenten Quiet Day on 6 March please click here