Sarum Pause for Reflection: Learning to Walk

Reflection

“I never thought a Red Kite could look cute,” observed my walking companion, as we watched two birds of prey playing in a windswept sky above the Chilterns scarp.

For several minutes they practised the near-vertical dive and the last-minute dodge out of the way, alternating roles of attack and defence. Quite a dangerous game, requiring dexterity and split-second timing. Then we realised: plumage identical, but one bird larger than the other – what we were watching was a flying lesson.

It’s that time of year: raptors give their offspring flying lessons; swans give cygnets swimming lessons, etc. The youngsters don’t always get it right! And on the Way of God’s Love, we are all toddlers.

Peter asked Jesus: just how often did he need to make it up with a colleague who kept making mistakes, letting everyone down, then saying sorry – seven times maybe? ‘No,’ said Jesus: ‘more like 70 x 7.’ Matthew 18:21-22

A mother will on occasion let her child make mistakes, like falling over and crying – so that the child learns. Because she loves the child, she will not let a situation get out of hand and become really dangerous. Admittedly, earthly parents don’t always get it right: sometimes children do get hurt and die. Our heavenly mother Jesus, however, always makes the right calls.

(Julian of Norwich, ‘A Revelation of Love’ Chapter 61)

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Prayer

Jesus, my kind, resourceful, dearest mother, have mercy on me.

I’ve messed up – I am a mess! and I don’t take after you at all. I can’t put things right, I don’t know where to begin, except in this: by asking You for the help only You can give.

Amen

Action

Towards evening – before tiredness sets in – for many people is a good time to sit down with our heavenly parent and review the day: to see what went well (and give thanks) and where we could have done better (’fess up, move on). In a monastery, the General Confession – saying sorry to God and to our brothers & sisters – is not during a morning service: it is in the evening, at the start of Compline, which is the last liturgical act of a day.

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A reflection from Jennifer Brooker ObJN, who has been a frequent visitor of Sarum College. She has a degree in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford and master’s degree in theology awarded by Durham University.


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