I spent the day at Mirfield College this week. I went with the idea of taking some time to talk to the Monks and to see how their Rule of Life worked out and what sort of community they had developed. Well, it didn’t turn out like that. I got there for morning prayers at 6.45am. I have to say that the whole idea of getting together to sing Psalms and hear the Bible read was lovely (even though Psalm 94 really didn’t fit into my theology). But then I was shown to my room. It seems that what I thought I had said and what they obviously heard got a bit confused as they thought I was there for a day’s retreat. I hadn’t realised just how much silence there was at the college!!!
I finally got to talk to someone at 4pm (that, by the way, is a lot of praying before I did any talking) and part of what the monks told me was that they saw their prayers as a major instrument for God’s transformation and by transformation, I mean they consider that saying prayers four times per day transforms them. This brought me up short because in all of my church life I have always considered that my prayers transformed others/other situations. It was never taught that prayers might change me. So I am thinking about this, especially in my work being with people whose mental health is not what they want it to be. ‘How might this piece of information help me to bridge a gap between those inside and those outside of church/Christianity?’ I think a lot has to change within those of us who believe we are spiritual already and I will post some thoughts about this later.
By the way, this is how a typical monastic day works out at Mirfield:
- 6.45am Matins (morning prayers)
- 7.30-8.30am breaksfast
- 10.45am cup of tea
- Noon: Midday office (afternoon prayers)
- 12.15 Communion
- 1pm Lunch
- 4pm Afternoon cup of tea
- 6pm Evensong (Evening prayers)
- 6.45pm supper
- 9.15pm Compline (Final prayers of the day).
By the end of the day I came away feeling calm, rested and very peaceful. The monks were very gracious and friendly. Thanks to Father Dennis and Father Crispin. If you want a day away in peace and quiet, I can recommend it!