Thinking by doing? Whatevers that? Praying by doing? Whatever next? Well, some of us spent a Quiet Day, finding out. And we knew, of course, that thinking-by-doing is nothing new, for didnt we all once learn to count on our fingers? And dont we still brush our teeth on auto? But this praying-by-doing was something else again. Not just a ploy to give the brains a rest, but an alternative way into God and into ourselves.
With the gentle guidance of Canon Sylvia Chapman, and in the blissful peace of Stutton church, it wasnt hard to be aware of God in Creation. And the point of our hands-on activities was to take that awareness further. So as we wrestled with our lumps of clay, we got in touch with the struggle of creation how a thing is made and re-made in our hands. How the image changes as we work. How, when we put our creation on the altar, it is so far from the image in our heads. And perhaps we get an inkling of how it also might be for God.
Tree of Life
And later, after a lunch-break in the sun, we leafed through magazines for scraps of colour, words and images, and assembled what was for each of us the Tree of Life a personal celebration of Creation as it has been for us; and these were also laid around the altar.
The clay may crumble. The collage fade. But perhaps something remains in us from that day. And, as for praying-by-doing, Im comforted to know that its there, at the heart of our gospel. That Jesus didnt leave us books to read, or things to say, beyond one brief and wonderful prayer. He left us something special to do. Eat this. Drink this. Actions that resonate with our earliest experience of life that of taking in life. Giving goodness to ourselves. Our faith is not just for the clever. Its for us all, of every age and ability, because its central act has meaning for us all. Praying-by-doing? Its there, every time we eat and drink in his name.
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