Stop, just breathe


    Category
    Voices
    Date
    20 March 2015
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    My world of thought had taken me back to my pressing questions of the time. I had been ordained for some years and I had been reflecting deeply on purpose and place, both big and small questions about life. My life. Questioning my vocation. Thinking about what I should do next, where I fitted into the scheme of things.

    Charles Sutton

    Perhaps this account is less about ‘voice’ and more about a ‘hearing’ some 20 or so years ago. The place where it occurred is important to me: a large volcanic rock on the flanks of Scafell in the Lakeland Fells.

    This was a very wintery day; snow had been on the high fells for weeks, was consolidated, sparkled and glinted in the sunshine.

    The place has become a ‘known location’, a patch of special ground, a familiar place. It’s easy for me to recognise as I pass and always creates a moment of familiarity. It’s marked by a boulder and it is where, for an instant, ‘the beyond’ touched my world in the present.

    On this day in particular, and like so many other days, I was out in the hills with a small group of friends. We’d been up to Scafell Crag doing a few winter routes in perfect snow conditions and, unusually, great weather. We’d had a good day, had done nothing hard or frightening and finished with a short walk to the summit.

    After some idle chat we turned and started down in the evening light. As so often happens, we were strung out, each person walking in their own world of thought, happy to be out and breathing mountain air.

    My world of thought had taken me back to my pressing questions of the time. I had been ordained for some years and I had been reflecting deeply on purpose and place, both big and small questions about life. My life. Questioning my vocation. Thinking about what I should do next, where I fitted into the scheme of things.

    I lifted my eyes from the snow covered path to the stunning mountain view, sharpened by a low sun, given crystal clarity by the cold weather and saturated with evening colour. It was a moment that demanded ‘stop, just breathe’ and it was in that moment I was aware of the answer. More than that, I ‘knew’ the answer.

    Sadly, any knowledge of the answer was lost in the same instant. The answer to my questions - about my faith, my choices in ministry, the crowding thoughts concerning how my life would stretch forward - was lost to the wind.

    But something had changed and it changed profoundly: the deepening of my trust in God.

    This was the point at which my reflecting and musing had culminated in a release. It wasn’t that responsibility and accountability or decision-making were lifted from my shoulders. Somehow, though, the chains of my questions and fears were broken away. I could step forward in confidence. I could act.

    Father Charles Sutton

    is Associate Priest at All Saints’ Church Clifton, Bishop’s Advisor on Self-Supporting Ministry and an Organizational Psychologist

    Contemplate now

    What one question would you most like the answer to?

    What are the reasons for asking this in the first place - what things about yourself?

    Is there any way you can understand these things about yourself as God’s gift to you?

    Meditate through the day

    Try to look for moments, scenes and situations where you could imagine God trying to break through.