The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s reflection is from Revd Patrick Stonehewer, who is minister for a group of churches in the N & NW of Bristol and into South Gloucestershire. Before entering ordained ministry, Patrick worked for a well-known department store and food group, including a period working just across the road from the New Room.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)
I was reminded recently about a church leader who had been criticised for leading worship from their kitchen, the critics suggesting that it wasn’t a suitably sacred space. That led me to question what does a space need to be sacred, somewhere that we can experience and encounter God? For many, this will be a church building or a favourite spot, but could it be a place at home with earthly reminders of God? These might include a cross and the Bible, but pictures, candles, flowers and other things speak to us of The One beyond us and beside us. On my desk I have a small wooden cross and a prayer card, propped up amongst some small rocks which together remind me about my relationship with our eternal God through the message of the cross, grounded in prayer.
There is an Eastern European tradition of creating prayer cabins, ‘poustinias,’ often found in woods; the literal translation of ‘poustinia’ is desert or wilderness, a refuge in which to retreat and pray. Building on this, many Orthodox Christians keep a part of their home as a worshipping space, usually in a corner somewhere, with icons, a cross and candles.
Such a space might be useful for us as we reflect on the continuing impact of the pandemic, the world at large and our own place within it. It does not need to be grand, just set aside to be sacred in a place close to us. However you do this, or whether you take a walk to somewhere special, there is always a poustinia right in the places we live, where we can always pray and find God.
Wherever you are, I invite you to be still for a moment.
Open your senses to all that is around you.
Be aware of all that sustains you in life.
Strive to give back as much as you can take.
Offer all to God.