Reflection written at Worth Abbey 3/4/07

I'm sitting in the semi-dark of the Abbey Church at 10.50pm. There is a single spotlight illuminating the white stone altar. I've had a wonderful day in the company of the Compass Points vocations discernment group, having talked to them about my life this morning. Tonight we watched "Babette's Feast" together. I'd forgotten (or rather not realised until now) what a beautiful film it is.

I came to the church here afterwards. And despite everything that my family has suffered in recent weeks (months and years) the following words came into my head as I knelt before the altar lit up before me, tears streaming down my face; words that expressed a heartfelt prayer and a welling up of emotion within me:

I love you with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole being and never have I loved you more than I do in this
instant. You have helped me carry my cross. I want to help you carry yours because I love you.

These words obviously echo those of the Book of Deuteronomy 6;4-5, the Jewish "Shema Israel" prayer:

"Listen, Israel: Yahweh your God is the one, the only Yahweh. You must love Yahweh your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your strength..."

But never before have I really made them my own and meant them as deeply as I do now. I think a suffering heart that is open to God and pours out its grief at the foot of his Son's cross, is apt to receive the fullness of his grace. Suffering can, as such, be a way to a deeper, truer relationship with God. The pain remains, but great comfort is gained from knowing that Jesus, his Son, shares my pain and that in some small way I am invited to share in his.

I pray now for those who suffer but do not know God, for their pain and loneliness are beyond my imagining.
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