Monday, 14 December 2015

Not everything that counts can be counted

Last September while leading a retreat, I felt a renewed call to prayer and contemplative availability. My work - leading Benedictus Contemplative Church, speaking and writing - is constantly inviting me to be sourced in a deeper listening and attending. I felt called to create greater space for this in my busy life.

I conceived the possibility of committing to a new weekly practice of a half-day retreat on Wednesday mornings. There'd be no agenda except simply to be available and open, to enjoy the world, and let myself dare trust that simply being present was 'work' enough for this time.

Immediately, I was arguing with myself. Who has time to spend a half day doing 'nothing' every week? Just because I 'could' make space for it, didn't mean I should. After all, most people I know don't have this luxury.

And yet ... once the idea had come, it drew me almost irresistibly. And since September, I've begun. Even days when I thought I didn't have 'time', somehow the day wouldn't let me off the hook. And each time, I've been surprised by joy. A deep sense of peace (shalom) comes as I let myself sink into it. I see so much more, when I stop to pay attention. And each time, I'm so grateful that I've let myself have this.

Here's a couple of photos from an early Wednesday.

A jetty I sat on for a while.

And here it is, closer up.

I have a sense that my 'despite myself' commitment to this time matters. Not just for me - but in ways I don't yet really understand - for others. For a culture stuck on treadmills of endemic busy-ness and distraction, for the planet, for creating openings to grace.

At the same time, I'm wary of seeking to 'justify' my Wednesdays in terms of their supposed high purpose. As Einstein famously remarked, 'Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted'.

At the moment, I guess what is true is that I feel called to this practice ... and I'll see where it leads. This blog is an offering from my Wednesday retreats. It's a place where I can reflect on my experience. I hope it may offer something to you as well.

Shalom, Sarah


  1. Dear Sarah

    I am excited about your idea of a Wednesday morning Retreat and of sharing some of what arises from this more reflective space. In time, I imagine this blog will be a source of sustenance to many. In the distracted and superficial world of 'commerce' we need to hear the voices of those with enough courage to draw aside from time to time and say 'no' to business as usual. Thank you for your commitment to the work of stillness and silence and for your willingness to share its fruits. Benedictus.

  2. Sarah, this is such a wonderful, life-giving and perspective-balancing spiritual your soul space in the beauty of natural places. I think of the poet G.M.Hopkins' concept of our "inscapes" being that deep, inner place within us which makes us both uniquely ourselves and interconnected with all creation, a place that can only be discovered by God revealing it to us. Allowing time and being in spacious landscapes are pathways to such revealing and discovery. And as another poet, W.B.Yeats says "We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather around us, that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life, because of our quiet." May these times reveal delightful landscapes and rich insights, as you nurture your inscape. We are all the beneficiaries of the wisdom you distil in the quiet.