Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

Desert meditation

[by the late late service, amended by grace]

Meditation has often been considered a journey, a journey made by seeking calmness, and through that calmness, better awareness of the more subtle movements of the mind and heart.

This journey is a reflection and a way of imaginative encounter. We are not emptying ourselves; just closing off other distractions as a discipline of the mind.

We would like to help guide your thoughts, so that you can make your own journey. and perhaps take a new perspective on some of the paths travelled.

If everyone could find their own space now.... you might want to lie down, or(at least) sit in a relaxed, comfortable position.

During this journey there will be noises around you...just let them move around you. Don’t worry if you need to cough, or shift your position..just be at ease.

If you've found your space...we’ll begin.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath
Hold your breath - maybe count to five and release it
Listen to the rythmns of your body
Hear your heart beat
hear your breathing
Relax and enjoy just being

Try this : tense up every muscle in your body as tightly as you can..including your face. Tense, tense...Now gently let it go. Relax it. Let it drop away, slowly but let it go.

Try that once more...tense up, tighten everything in your body...clench...and slowly, gradually, relax. Relax. Let everything go.

Keeping your eyes closed, think about the space around you. In your mind, let the space around you spread out. Let it get bigger until you can’t reach it’s edges but you are still the only person in there. Your breath is the only sound.

Let the space open up further, open to the sky. The sky is clear, it is daytime and the sun is warm on your face. This is a huge and empty space, spreading out in every direction.

This is not like the place you have just come from. There are no walls, just sand spreading out as far as the eye can see. There are no streets, no traffic, no meetings to prepare for, no work to do.

Just for now there is nowhere that you have to be, nothing that you should have done yesterday. Nothing that needs tidying or putting away. Everything is in order in this open space.

Back in that other place that we have come from, there are all the things we meant to do. The things we are always reminding ourselves to do but which get lost somehow in the busy-ness of our lives.

In this space, in the openness, in the now, when your face is gently touched by the sun and you can feel the sand under your feet think what it would be like to bring those half-buried concerns here. Here where there is nothing to hold you in, nothing to call you away, no phone to answer and no need to rush.

Now somewhere, where you can just see them, there is another person out here. He seems to be gazing at the horizon just like you. Maybe you’ll go over and meet him. You don’t recognise him but he doesn’t seem threatening.

He has seen you. He knows that you are out there like him, enjoying the space.

Join him. Stand by his side. Like you, he has left a place behind. He has come to escape people who ask questions and make demands. He has come away because, just like you, he could not think clearly when there were sounds calling, when there were things before his eyes that needed to be done. He needed time to escape as well. Share a bit of your experience with him...from your life, from your other place.

Sit with him in silence a while. It is good to know that others come out here too to find what they need.

As you sit you look down at the sand at your feet, and see many footprints all around you. Footprints made by the souls of history. They also felt alone within the crowd.

You think.... in this desert Abraham roamed. He was homeless. He travelled, uncertain of the future, afraid.

In this desert Joseph was abandoned, betrayed by his family.

In this desert Moses lived. Haunted by his past. Humbled by his present. Daunted by what was expected of him.

In this desert David hid. He was hunted. Misunderstood and misrepresented. He learned how to be patient.

In this desert Elijah sat. He was tired. He had carried God’s message for so long he felt he had nothing left to give.

In this desert the Son of God wandered. He was tempted. He came face to face with God. He came face to face with himself. He was offered so many alternatives. He chose the cross.

In this desert many people have walked. Keeling lost. Feeling that they have failed. Alone. Disappointed. Confused.

You lift your head up from the dust and see that your wilderness is far from deserted. You and your friend are in the midst of a huge crowd of travellers of every culture and walk of life.

You see your friends and family, those whom you know and love. For all journey into the desert at some time.

The sun has moved in the sky. You know that its time to go back soon. It’s okay because you know that you can always come back. When your life in that other place gets too bounded you know this open space and you can come again. Just like all those other people.

You know that wherever you are there is always a space that is yours. Even in your busy life, there is a space that your body occupies where nothing else can be at the same time. It is your space. It is a little piece of what you had under the open sky...

Think about your body now, your breathing. Very soon we’re going back to where we started this journey.

Keep your eyes closed but remember what it looked like. Prepare your mind to return to that place.

You are among others but in a space of your own.

When you are ready, open your eyes...

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