For four years before COVID19 I kept a vow never to read or watch or listen to the news.  Of course some of it – like Trump becoming President or BREXIT – was unavoidable, because everyone was talking about it, but I made no effort to engage with it.  It felt good.  It gave me a greater clarity and peace of mind.  Now, since COVID19, I have been following the news every day – the numbers, the rules, the lack of protection clothing, the story of Dominic Cummings.  This morning I woke with a feeling of acute distress and emptiness, and I realised that it was because I was being drained by it all. 

Then, in our Tuesday Zoom Quaker Meeting, amidst the silence, a Friend read to us this passage from Quaker Faith and Practice.  It comes from someone called Harold Loukes, Quaker Findings, and was published in 1967: 

Prayer is experienced as deeper than words or busy thoughts. ‘Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts’, said [George] Fox.  It is marked by a kind of relaxed readiness, a ‘letting-go’ of the problems and perplexities with which the mind is occupied, and a waiting in ‘love and truth’: the truth about oneself, the truth about the world, deeper than the half-truths we see when we are busy in it about our planning and scheming, the love in which we are held when we think of others more deeply than our ordinary relations with them, the love that at root holds us to the world.  Prayer is not words or acts, but reaching down to love: holding our fellows in love, offering ourselves in love; and being held by, being caught up in love.  It is communion, an opening of the door, an entry from the beyond.  This is the point where secular language fails, for this cannot be spoken about at all: it can only be known.

I have re-taken my vow. 



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