Sometimes it means a long day sitting in the rain with nothing very much happening.
Am still enjoying Rowan Williams on discipleship. In fact I’ve not got much further than the first chapter. Which is all about discipleship as just hanging around in God’s presence, much like students in the past, or indeed disciples, used to share not just lectures but their whole lives with their teachers.
Rowan Williams Being Disciples, pp 4-5
‘I’ve always loved that image of prayer as birdwatching. You sit very still because something is liable to burst into view, and sometimes of course it means a long day sitting in the rain with nothing very much happening. I suspect that, for most of us, a lot of our experience of prayer is precisely that. But the odd occasions when you do see (p5) what T. S. Eliot (in section IV of “Burnt Norton”) called “the kingfisher’s wing” flashing “light to light” make it all worthwhile … this sort of expectancy … is basic to discipleship.’
My maths teacher wife tells me her kids hate nothing more than thinking. She gets protests: ‘Miss, my brain’s going to boil over’, for example. ‘Miss, this is child cruelty, making us think.’
What kids really like, she goes on, is working through a page of exercises and getting a page of ticks for everything they got right. Tick (check) tick tick. Wonderful.
The preference for ticking (checking) boxes instead of thinking obviously starts early and perhaps never leaves us.
As many of us remember, a few years ago the UK parliament, (then in normal times) had an expenses scandal. Some politicians , it turned out, had been drinking from a tax-payers’ fountain like camels just returning from the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia. Very few had broken the law. They had cleared the expenses with the parliamentary authorities. What they had actually done was outsourced their thinking and replaced it with ticking boxes. It wasn’t breaking the rules to get your moat cleaned, or your birdboxes nailed up, or a new kitchen, so, whoopie do. It must be OK.
Fortunately, another much-loved set of people in our society, the journalists, did their thinking for them. It may have ticked the boxes, they pointed out, but was it right? You are the highest court in land – what were doing, outsourcing your integrity?
Politicians are just like us, only blow-up versions of us, so we must do this kind of thing ourselves all the time.
One or two people have kindly written to ask if I’m OK given that the blog has been silent for a couple of months. In fairness, I have a track record of being blue-lighted to hospital.
Happily it’s just been busy-ness this time. I’ve spent most of the last 12 months as lead author on a 52-week free world prayer guide for churches. I’ve done this with a long-time colleague from the Operation World ministry and with people from the Lausanne Organization.
It’s been great fun but actually getting the project dressed nicely and out the door, especially in January, didn’t leave a lot of time for blogging or (more to the point) thinking, Since I have a lead time for blog entries, that meant it all fell silent in February.
It’s been good fun and you can see the fruits of our labours at lausanne.org/pray, and you can sign up too if you wish.
Meanwhile I’m looking forward to working on some half-cooked ideas and throwing them out into the maelstrom of words that swirls around us each day. I’ve also been working on some audio for the site in case your ears are feeling left out.