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I have just watched this programme on the i player. I have been looking forward to it for some time, as our friend Maggie, who is a retreat director at St Beuno’s abbey in North Wales, had mentioned that some of the programme was filmed there.
It did not disappoint.
The format of the programme is simple- take a fairly random assortment of people and soak them in silence, led by Catholic monks who are able to guide them on the journey. It is reality TV that seems very real. Then end is not to make people Christian- rather to allow them to encounter themselves, and in doing so, to encounter God.
Here are a few things that hit me as I watched the programme-
Silence is a gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God.
Yet I find silence hard. For most of us, life is a process of constantly seeking distraction from- life.
It is a lifetimes work to find the silence that allows us to hear the voice of God.
Ah, well perhaps there is hope for me yet. How ever much life I have left…
Both the purpose and the means of the process is- purity of heart.
I know my heart a little- and it is not pure.
My spiritual encounters in the past have tended to revolve around repeatedly saying sorry for things that I know I will do again. As I became older, the pervasive guilt I felt as a young man trying to be Christian has ebbed away- which is good- but perhaps this might also mean that I am more comfortable with my impurity.
If you have not got a pure heart, you can not see God.
Is this true? How pure does it have to be? Or is it just something to do with desiring purity, and genuinely seeking to deal with all the things that get in the way?
The God of Surprises is going to give you some wonderful surprises.
I hope that this is true for these folk in the programme.
And I hope it is true for me, and you.
Because life without the surprise of God is half life, or no life.