Praying with my surroundings
Still Life in my Home - ‘Come and see where I live’
This is a prayer exercise to help us pray in our home.
At the start of John’s gospel two of John’s disciples ask to see the place where Jesus was staying. ‘Come and see’, he says. (John1:35-39). In this prayer, I ask Jesus to be with me in the place where I am staying. ‘Come and see’, I say to Jesus.
In the same way that I can be tempted to skim over a well-known gospel passage or a familiar psalm, I might have become so used to my surroundings that I barely notice them. In this prayer, I seek to encounter Jesus afresh in the ordinariness of my surroundings; not by setting up a still-life as an artist might do but by simply noticing and being with things as they are.
Instead of reading scripture, I am ‘reading’ the space where I live. I do so with a listening heart. I trust that God is alive and active in all things and can speak in and through my surroundings.
If nothing much happens, I simply sit with what I see and trust that Jesus is my companion as I look.
Without thinking too hard about it, I find a spot somewhere in my home (or garden if I have one); or even sit down where I am and get comfortable. I take time to grow still.
I listen out for sounds far away. After a time, I focus on sounds close by. Finally, I listen to the sound of my own breathing. I give thanks for the life within me.
How am I? I choose three feeling words that describe me in this moment.
I imagine God with me, looking at me, loving me exactly as I am. What might God want for me in this moment? What do I want? I tell God.
Now I look gently at what is around me. I notice colours, shapes, lines, patterns and textures. I notice how light falls over and onto what I see, the shadows this creates, the spaces in between things, the sense of movement, stillness and contrast. I just let my eyes roam for a while.
I continue to ‘roam’ until something catches my eye; even from the corner of my eye. What strikes me? What ‘detail’ of my surroundings is calling for my attention?
I stay with what catches my attention. I ‘frame’ it, like a picture, letting go of other things around it. I let my gaze linger with it; savouring and giving thanks for it.
I imagine Jesus joins me and together we look closely at my ‘framed picture’. We savour it together.
As we continue to look at it, which part draws me in further? Is there a part that is particularly absorbing my attention? I explore it. What words would describe it?
Is there a part I am less keen to look at? I notice that, without judgement. I let Jesus hold or touch this. I tell Jesus what I notice.
I listen as he tells me what he sees and what he says about it.
I imagine my ‘framed picture’ speaks to me. What does it say? Maybe one part speaks to another.
I talk with Jesus about what is arising in me and share any thoughts, feelings, memories, stories, songs, words, (day)dreams that have surfaced. I listen to what Jesus says.
I draw my imaginings to a close, giving thanks for what I have experienced. I bring myself back to the wider room / garden. After a little time, I reflect with some of the questions below.
At the end of my prayer I might reflect over a cup of tea asking these questions:
- What stays with me?
- What do I want to give thanks for?
- What might God be saying to me?
- How do I want to respond?
- What words describe my prayer?