Psychotherapists, counsellors and others interested in mental health as well as spirituality may have spotted some interesting speakers at Wychwood Circle this autumn. After mindfulness in September, on November 3rd we have author Guy Stagg who has suffered with serious mental illness and who, as a non-believer, decided to undertake the 5,500km ‘pilgrimage’ from Canterbury to Jerusalem: he hiked on foot, alone, on ancient paths and busy routes, relying on the generosity of strangers all the way. The result is ‘The Crossway’ (Picador 2018), which mixes travel and memoir and where Guy Stagg (guystagg.co.uk) tells of his walk towards recovery and – a big question for us – ‘asks whether religion can still have meaning for those without faith’. Join us at Wychwood Library at 7pm. Continue reading Mental health, imagination & spirituality
Meditation, some would say, is the way to wisdom. Or, as Fr Richard Rohr recently put it in a Lenten Daily Meditation, in wanting ‘to grow towards love, union, salvation, or enlightenment (I use the words almost interchangeably)’ we hope to move ‘from naïveté to wisdom’ (https://cac.org/from-naivete-to-wisdom-2019-03-24/). John Main, one of the pioneers of a renewed focus on Christian meditation in the twentieth century, compared the ‘path of meditation’ to a pilgrimage, something not unknown to us in our deanery: Continue reading WAYS OF ATTENDING: pilgrimage & meditation
Saturday 22 September 2018
10.30 – 11.30 am Tiddy Hall, Ascott-under-Wychwood
Ascott is lucky to have a beautiful, even serene, ancient building and churchyard right in its midst. While religion and ritual are not for everyone, fortunately, the church at the centre of our village welcomes everyone and anyone at any time (the door is locked at dusk). Continue reading From GWR to MMM
‘The sacrament of the present moment is the doorway to the eternal and universal’, says Sally Welch, vicar of St Mary’s Charlbury, in her recent book How to be a mindful Christian (Canterbury Press, 2016). It is an experience that we try to cultivate at our regular Mid-Month Meditation in the Chase Benefice (3rd Tuesday, 6.15pm). The joy of a midsummer meditation at Holy Trinity Ascott is that we can have the door wide open and tune in and out of the sounds of the village and the valley of the Evenlode. Continue reading The Sacrament of the Present Moment
Enstone resident and local writer, Elizabeth Birchall, has recently written a seasonal poem. We are grateful to her for sharing it with us.
Like Shakespeare’s schoolboy I trudge
Reluctantly to the ancients’ keep fit class.
Alone today I can look around. There
In the north-facing lea of a hedge
Protected from wind but subdued by cold
Squats a drab rosette of foxglove leaves, clad
In the faintest down of frost. And so
Their summer roughness seems as soft
As ‘Rabbits’ Ears’ – for just a moment more.
The January sun nears its zenith
And all the village roofs have already
Lost their bloom.
Some days the sky, heavy as an elephant,
Hardly has energy to unload
Its drizzle. Then my garden cowers
In winter gloom. No bees fly but birds pick
Among the deadhead fuzz of asters.
Two weeks ago the cotoneaster tree
Cascaded brilliance from crown
To lowest branches; surely the feast
Would last the season through. Fieldfares, precise
As Mondrian, then cut away the red
In horizontal bands that left a lattice
Of black framing despondent light.
No spark of brightness –
Yet beneath dank layers of leaves beetles lurk
And brave pricks of green shelter until Spring.
Today the rotting mass is crisp and laced
With rime and the naked tree
Filigrees the blue.
For information on Elizabeth’s published books, click on the images below, but do order them from our local bookshops!
The Revd Dr Nicholas Buxton (you might just remember him as Nick with the long hair, one of the retreatants on the 2005 TV series The Monastery) is a priest in Newcastle upon Tyne and the author of a very readable book about ‘Meditation and modern life’ called The Wilderness Within. Reacting to an article on Anglican-Quaker relations, he recently wrote of a predecessor of his who 100 years ago introduced the practice of silent prayer and went on, as Canon of Winchester Cathedral, to write an account of his encounters with Quakerism, published as The Fellowship of Silence in 1917. In it he relates how he once met someone in church who did not otherwise attend services, but came to the silent-prayer meetings and had brought no less than 30 of his colleagues in a nearby office with him!