Please select an issue from the list on the right, to view the articles which have been uploaded to the website.

Issue 29

Occasional Letter

Occasional Letter

By Martin Tunnicliffe                                              

 This is the text from one of Martin\'s \"Occasional Letters\" to \"Fellowship Solitaries\" to whom he writes regularly during the year.  It was felt this letter might be of interest to other members and friends of the Fellowship.   Martin writes:-

\"Where do contemplatives fit into the spiritual scheme of things? We are, most certainly, a minority in the human race, and in the Church. On the whole, human beings are primarily concerned with survival. Their life agenda is secular and pragmatic, and religion in its various forms is usually called on to support this approach to life. Worship supplies the feel-good factor, and prayer in general is about personal concerns and problems.

Contemplatives are also human, and so we cannot and do not seek to opt out of this scenario. On the other hand, we are convinced that the prevailing un-spiritual attitude to life tends to err on the narrow side and does not pay enough attention to the boundless creative Love-Wisdom-Power of God who is above all, through all and in all. We would go along with the poet Wordsworth when he opened one of his sonnets with the memorable lines about people\'s limited vision:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.

I have sometimes come across Fellowship members who become disillusioned with their local church, perhaps with the Church as a whole. This is understandable, because, for all kinds of reasons, religious institutions can easily become more secular than spiritual, losing their sense of vision and divine purpose. In this context, I think it is important for contemplatives to \"hang in,\" because in the spiritual scheme of things, we are aligned with the essential prophetic tradition.

The biblical prophets appear as activists, but their activity is clearly based on a deep contemplative engagement with the living Word. That becomes even more obvious when prophecy reaches its climax in Jesus. He was a contemplative. His active public ministry was preceded by long years of spiritual preparation, and the Gospels give us glimpses of his custom of contemplative withdrawal (notably with the so-called \"temptations\" in the wilderness, but at other times as well).

Some of the characteristics of the contemplative life should now become clear. We withdraw into stillness and silence in order to engage, first with the living Word, then with the Church and the world. We live in an incredibly noisy and \"driven\" society, where so much energy is spent on short-term goals and self-satisfaction. This lifestyle often spills into the churches which sometimes too readily model their agenda and style on shifting secular patterns rather than pay attention to their roots in contemplative spirituality. How often have you heard the call, \"When are you going to get into the twenty-first century?!\".

So it is essential that those who are gifted, or called, to know through faith something of the Divine perspective, should persevere in contemplative work. Only this way can we become fit both to guide, and to intercede for, others so that God\'s human creation may more fully realise its potential to show forth the glory of God.