The material that follows is also available as an audio recording.
I have come to the end of one of those weeks when the truth is that for most of the week, try as I might to settle on a theme for contemplation, inspiration has been lacking and nothing has felt right. It has been a busy week but I have had time and it is not that I have felt especially tired. Nevertheless, nothing has been rising to the surface of my reflections to share.
Fortunately, I have 15 years of contemplative material to dig around in to find something to share with you. So I have trawled through past material and noticed that some of it could be relevant or timely but none of it resonates sufficiently for me to want to actually offer it. So as I have reflected on this state of affairs with the clock ticking down, I have concluded that I am running on empty and that is what is authentic this week.
Being empty is not necessarily a bad thing. If I am empty there is the opportunity to be filled. If I am empty there is perhaps a bit less of me occupying all my interior space and the potential for God to come and fill me anew and afresh. It is often to the emptiness of the desert experience that God can lead us so that he can speak to us without the usual distractions that might prevent us hearing his voice.
The story of Emmaus on which James is preaching this week tells us that Jesus draws alongside, walks with us, talks with us, and provides for us in our need.
My being empty this week doesn’t mean you are but I hope what follows is nonetheless of value to you.
As we begin, settle yourself so you are comfortable but alert. Pay attention to your breath; place your hand on your chest and notice its very gentle rise and fall.
Now, deepen the inhalation and exhalation of your breath and notice how your chest expands more fully beneath your touch and how your shoulders are drawn into each breath as well.
Focusing on your breath helps you to be fully present to this moment
Now I would invite you to place your hands palms up on your lap; a gesture of surrender and offering but also a gesture of receiving.
You might like to raise your hands up slightly as an active expression of offering your life and all that you are up to Jesus.
As you bring all of yourself, reflect on whether you come carrying anything.
Are there worries, burdens, frustrations or sorrows in your hands?
Or are you carrying perhaps distractions, excitements or specific hopes?
Or are your hands empty?
Allow the Spirit to show you what, if anything, you are holding.
If there are things you are holding, will you let the Spirit take them from you? He will hold them if you will trust him and let him.
If your hands are empty, they can be filled.
The Spirit comes with gifts; joy, peace, hope, love, grace, forgiveness, wisdom and guidance amongst others.
He comes to fill you if you will receive what he offers.
The invitation of this time is to take - or imagine - an empty mug or cup and to contemplate what you see and to consider what that says to you.
If you prefer the image of the desert then you could alternatively reflect on a vast and empty desert and allow that image to speak to you instead.
The invitation is to meditate on John 7: 37 & 38; the story of when Jesus went, initially in secret, to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Tabernacles.
John 7: 37 & 38
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Take some time to consider what all your reflections have revealed for you; how the Holy Spirit may be stirring in you, ministering to you and filling you. Allow these reflections to guide you in a further time of prayer and thanksgiving as you ask for what grace you may need, and give thanks for what you may have received.