We have given ourselves to the often lonely furrow of prayer. To the walking, kneeling and weeping path of petition. We have cried deep within ourselves for the union with God that all souls who walk on the green fields of Britain are called to inherit.
For some the journey must now go deeper still. Deeper into the woods, the hills, the caves, the rivers and waters of our coastline. Deeper still into the aloneness with God in the isolated places of our land. Deeper still as we locate ourselves in the ascetic practice of penitence and humility, with only the promise of God to free us from the seductions of this world and bring us to the place of simple encounter.
The encounter of heaven on earth and His promise to bring us home to the eternal embrace of creations creator. For the path home, for all who crave the adornment of the soul with the full grace of heaven, must be to embrace the call to be alone with Christ in love. And this aloneness is not to be feared, but like the Baptist, it is to be known as a charism. It is the path of true discovery and not for those whose needs can be met in the comfort and safety of hearth and material home.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Gospel of Matthew chapter 10.
And it is into this aloneness that winter teaches us to walk. Where our only warmth is the strangely warmed heart turned to Christ as your breath is clouded in the freezing air before your face and your knees know only grey stone. Winters song is the lonely mourning of longing for release from the shackles of our own barren sin. It is the deep frustration of knowing our own internal death, were our life blood and spirit has frozen still and in our muteness and paralysis we strain our eyes upward pleading for release. And God whose deep affection stokes our cheek with a reassurance of tomorrows safety, awakens our voice to simple worlds of love. The silent prayers of our hearts move the coldness to a touch of warmth, a few words of connection and understanding, and our dull minds awaken to the language of the eternal Holy Spirit.
Then finally we reach out beyond ourselves and we are touched by the green shoots of spring. The moisture of grass and the pent-up energy of the budding blossom that is now pregnant with an explosion of colour, and we await the first rays of The Son’s spring sunshine. The grafted branch that has been so lifeless now tastes the early sweetness of Christ’s flowing life-giving sap, bringing love and potential back to our lonely lives. And as we awaken we find our struggle is the voice of our land crying for an end to its winter of discontent and suffering. For our land has forgotten He who formed it, and our lonely prayers are the first whispering dreams that call it back to the warmth of His glorious summer.