Japanese friend Aki emailed me the other day.
He’s been feeling the wrath of this years storms both in the
and in the Pacific. He
found himself driving a car in the direction of hurricane Ivan, though
thankfully he missed the worst of it, then returned to
in time to be hit be Typhoon 21 – The Japanese like to number their
storms rather than personalise them with names.
night I somewhat agreed with the Japanese, why give a name to a storm
that is trying to destroy your life and your belongings.
At the time I was in a caravan, a storm was howling outside and
I was trying to plan escape routes should the van be picked up and
tossed into the next field. The
fact that I am here talking to you today demonstrates that the worst
didn’t happen, but neither Luisa or I got much sleep that night.
really, as we’d headed west for two or three days of peace and
quiet. We needed some
time. Luisa had just been
through the sadness of burying her father.
We felt under pressure and a visit to some of our favourite
haunts of the past seemed the ideal way to do it.
Gale force winds in a rocking caravan were not part of the
and I both love nature, and we’re both keen walkers – so our plan
was to relax along some costal footpaths.
While that did happen in the glorious sunshine of Monday and
Tuesday, it did not happen in the rain and gales that Sunday.
I did walk the dog, dressed up in full waterproofs, then we
went off in the car, eventually ending up at a favourite old church of
Just-in-Roseland, dating back to the 12th century, and
based on a religious community that had been there for hundred’s of
years before that.
a church that attracts many tourists, set as it is in beautiful
gardens sloping down to an inlet of the River Fal.
The flowering hydrangeas were at their best, blues, pinks and
whites in various hues somehow brought out by the rain. However, it
was something inside the church that made the greatest impression on
is a sign inside the door that welcomes visitors and, while most come
as tourists, invites them to spend a moment in meditation.
That wasn’t hard for us, as with the bad weather outside we
had the church to ourselves. What
struck me most was an invitation directing us to the front of the
church where a prayer book was set by a small altar.
Visitors were invited to records their prayers in the book, and
to spend a few moments in prayer for themselves, and for the others
whose prayers were already recorded there.
leafed back through the pages. Some
prayers were quite poetic, almost works of art.
Others, simple requests for healing, or hope, or peace.
Many were also acts of thankfulness.
There were a variety of languages, and contributions from all
ages. As I read, I found
myself strangely moved. It
was a real and continuing act of worship.
I added my own prayer to the book and prayed for those who had
gone before. And even now
as I think of it, there may be somebody, a stranger, visiting that
church right now, and his silent prayer includes me in it.
The thought is very reassuring.
This church, as old as history, traditional in many ways,
tracing its roots back to Celtic times, has found a ministry
meaningful to the passing tourist.
are, of course, those who question the value of such traditions.
Does prayer really work? What
is the point of my praying for a total stranger?
And while we could enter into a theological debate at this
stage, I’d rather speak from the heart and simply say that it did
something for me.
something I think the apostle Paul would have understood.
He may have been a great theologian, but he also wrote some
things that were simple and straightforward.
This is one of my favourites.
4:4-7 (NIV) The
Lord is near. 6Do
not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And
the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
times of bereavement, hardship or suffering, as well as those times
when the sun is shining and all seems right with the world, it’s a
promise I’ve come to trust – and maybe even one that you and I,
here on the radio, can share together, as we give thanks and pray for