Being comes before doing. For Christians, spirituality and vocation are directly related.
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The value of what we do in God’s service will flow directly from who we are. “We look at the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.”(1 Samuel 16.7).
Spirituality is concerned with the whole of our encounter with God, and how that encounter is experienced, nourished and expressed. Christian spirituality is centred on the knowledge of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, incarnate in the life of a community.
What matters to Jesus is what is in our hearts: our attitudes, motives, desires, values and beliefs, not just our outward religious observance. Spiritual formation begins with paying attention to the interior life- to the soul- and helping others to do so.
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Forty Years of Silence
On Saturday 11 May, the Julian Meetings are celebrating 40 years of waiting on God in silence. In 1973 contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition had largely been forgotten outside the monastic tradition. Young people, and older ones, were attracted by various eastern forms of meditation and mysticism, unaware of their own Christian heritage.
Hilary Wakeman, recognising this, wrote a letter to the church press, urging a return to the teaching and practice of Christian contemplative prayer, and asking interested people to get in touch with her. The response was such that contemplative prayer groups were set up in many parts of the country, and the Julian Meetings Network was born. Named for Julian of Norwich, the network is in no way a Julian Cult, but it accords with her precept that the highest form of prayer consists in simply waiting on God.
There are currently over 300 Julian Meetings in Great Britain and others across the world. Each Meeting is autonomous, but is part of a network supported by a thrice-yearly magazine with articles, information, book reviews and inspirational pieces; informative booklets; publicity material; a website; and personal support. Local and regional Quiet Days and events are also held.
The heart of JM is the regular Meeting, where people join together in silence and stillness to practise contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition. They welcome people of all denominations and also those just seeking a place for silent prayer.
Angela Ashwin will speak at a 40th anniversary gathering to be held in Lumen, the URC church in Tavistock Place, London on 11 May. Members of Julian Meetings are coming from all over the country to celebrate- only part of the day will be in silence! www.julianmeetings.org
Contact Gail Ballinger: email@example.com, 01985 300316.
Spiritual direction is a relationship between a director and a directee which aims to discern how God is at work in the whole of life. For help in finding a spiritual director, contact Rev Ian Cowley, Co-ordinator of Vocations and Spirituality: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Training for spiritual directors takes place at Ivy House, Warminster and through the Dorset Spiritual Direction Course. For more details of these courses contact Ian Cowley at Church House in Salisbury.
Courses in spiritual direction and spirituality are also available at Sarum College in Salisbury.