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Looking for hope 

This weekend I am taking a train to a monastery in the west of the state, to stay a few days on my own.  It’s the best thing I can think of to do at the moment, ‘weary and worn and sad’ as I am, after a period of physical and emotional challenges to the ones I love the most and at the end of project managing a major conference.

It’s not just tiredness that’s besetting me, however. It’s a deeper malaise. My writing vocation that has brought such satisfaction no longer seems the clarion call it once was. Way more troubling is the state of the world. I am deeply despondent from reading daily of Trump and Brexit, domestic violence and Adani and detention for some of the most traumatised people on the planet. The world has always been a brutal place; the environmental crisis is not simply a game changer, it is likely to be the game ender. I can see no way out of oblivion, and our leaders seem not to give a toss. I almost envy the very old, who don’t have to see what comes next.

At some level, however, I know that the God I follow is the bringer of hope, even, perhaps particularly, out of harrowing situations. Hope that isn’t a cheesy ‘happy ending’, hope that will give me and other people of good will the energy and humour not to give up, to ‘mount up with wings as eagles; run, and not be weary; walk, and not faint’.

I also know from a lifetime of experience that the enemy of hopefulness is sometimes as simple as physical exhaustion. Sometimes the road back to hope starts with catching up on sleep.

For a contemplative introvert like me, hope is also restored by silence and solitude.  I have been on countless retreats over the last four decades; the last time I went to this particular monastery, I was heavily pregnant with a baby who is now 25. It was where I went in order to recoup from a life full of small children, a busy parish in the middle of a bustling country town. It is where I first stumbled upon the writings of John Main, founder of the World Christian Meditation Community, which has been one of the richest blessings on my Christian journey. I have memories of nothing but peace and rest there.

I go back as a 60-year-old knowing that the only thing I need to take with me is trust. I look back at the young woman whose life since my last visit has been chock full of joy and heartache and richness and, through it all, a steadily increasing awareness of the boundless love of God. I need to trust that the God who is love will meet me in the days I set aside, to restore my soul, in the process freeing and energizing me to be a more effective channel of God’s peace.

This was published in the August edition of The Melbourne Anglican


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Reader Comments (3)

Go well ,i hope that you will be restored by your time in retreat,

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJanie Bell

Our thoughts will be with you Clare. Peace!

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFY

Clare, may the God of Peace, grant you peace; may the God of Love, surround and uplift you with love; and may the God of new beginnings grant you rest and re-creation.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGarnet

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