Contemplative Life, Coracle News

Quiet and Community — An Anchor in the Storm

“War, sin, killing and a robbing — they say that the world is one big problem. I’ve got one, I tell you now, I can’t find my guernsey cow. I didn’t write no constitution but I got one good solution: drink a little wine, drink a little booze, sit on the back porch and pick a little blues.” Goose Creek Symphony – “Talk About Goose Creek.

When things just didn’t go right for me during my college years, Goose Creek Symphony was there to take me away. This song has been on my mind recently. It seems like our world is one big problem from the political and social tensions at home in the US, to the uncertain and bellicose international scene, hurricanes and forest fires, and much more.  There are many who are coping in just the ways prescribed above by Goose Creek Symphony and I, too, am recognizing a certain attractiveness to old coping methods. There is a palpable feeling of disquiet over our nation and the world in these days and a need to deal with it in some way.
How does one handle times like these, when the world feels like “one big problem”?
St. Ignatius of Loyola, in his  fifth rule of discernment reminds us not to change our spiritual practices when we find ourselves in a time of desolation.  Desolation is another way of saying the feeling of deep separation from the Lord, of loneliness for His presence. Maintaining the practices of reading scripture, praying, and receiving the Eucharist are ways of reaching out to God as an anchor in the storm of troubled times. It seems important now more than ever to be vigilant in our ways of connecting with Him. But perhaps the most important practice for me is to continue to practice silence. It is the opposite of the frenetic busyness and disquiet I keep myself in, as my way of somehow combating the problems of the day.  (See Luke 10:41—42.)
Robert Cardinal Sarah in The Power of Silence says that, “Every day it is important to be silent so as to determine the outlines of one’s future action. … In everyday life, whether secular, civil, or religious, exterior silence is necessary.” (Thought 18, p. 31.) Furthermore, in Thought 112, he says that, “Without the moorings of silence, life is depressing movement, a puny little boat ceaselessly tossed by the  violence of the waves. Silence is the outer wall we must build in order to protect an interior edifice.” (p. 68.)
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:6 to go into our room, shut the door, and pray to our Father who is in secret. It is by separating from the activity around me that I can enter into the exterior silence. Then, once again I can allow Holy Scripture to lead me into interior silence. It is in this silence that I set the table to be ready for the still, small voice of God. After silence then I am able to reenter the world around me and engage from myself, recentered on the things of God. I don’t need my old coping mechanisms, or even a song to escape. I can combat desolation and disquiet by a deeper pursuit of relationship with the Way, the Truth and the Life, and not be afraid of silence wherein I can trust he will walk with me while the storm rages.
Coracle Northern Virginia will be restructuring over the next few months.  We are excited to send Erin Clifford off to a new role with Fuller Theological Seminary, and Melody Ries, faithful Coracle small group leader, will be relocating to Seattle. So things will look a little different for Coracle NoVA in 2018. We will be transitioning away from small groups and moving towards a monthly gathering for anyone in NoVA with the goal of building a stronger sense of Coracle community in the area, and providing a way for people to gather together, to do life with one another, to pray together, and to sharpen and encourage one another in uncertain times.  Please do stay tuned for more from us in coming months about this.
In the meantime….we have a couple of upcoming opportunities this Fall!
  1. Coracle is excited to partner with Mary Amendolia and Mary Jennings to bring a half-day morning retreat to Northern Virginia on incorporating creativity into your time with God on Saturday, September 30, at the Falls Church Anglican. Sparing nothing, being creative should be considered a time of great extravagance and there is no better time to apply this lavish creativity than in our time of worship and devotion to God. All levels are welcome.
  2. Take, Eat, Be: On the Eucharistic Life — Saturday, October 21 at Missionhurst in Arlington, VA. This miraculous celebration we get to partake in is shrouded in mystery.  Though we may have partaken in the Eucharist many times, often we’re not fully engaged in it as it is happening.  There is a reason that every retreat at Corhaven concludes with the Eucharist.  It is the heart of Christianity, a remembrance of God’s heart poured out for his flock. We will explore questions like: Why do I need the Eucharist to sustain my life?  How do I get strength from it? How does this enable me to be who I am in the body of Christ?
We hope you will join us for some of these upcoming events.  We have also started welcoming applications for the 2018 class of the Coracle Fellowship. We hope we will see each of you in the coming weeks and months as we gather together more often, solidifying in the strength of community our bonds as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons of God.
–Wade Ballou
Coracle Community Minister
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