Many years ago I accidentally stumbled upon the practice of Christian meditation. This happened when I worked in the City and used to pop into a church called St Peter’s in Cornhill. It was a Christopher Wren church with very low lighting, and antique dark wood furniture. The wood gave off a wonderful smell and although the church was next to a busy road it was surprisingly quiet. I used to go in most days and just sit there for a few moments in the quiet before I went out into the Lloyds Insurance market where I worked as a reinsurance broker.
These times of quiet contemplation started to expand as I discovered that once my mind was settled, I could enter a more peaceful state in which I was able just to be and to rest. I believe that God was working in me during these times as I learned to be still and quiet before my creator.
St Peter’s became my haven and place of peace as I grappled with the busyness and tension of my life in business at the time. Surprisingly I used to find that I was in a much better frame of mind when I went out than I had been when I had arrived, and I think that my ability to sell in the market was boosted by those times with God.
When St Peter’s was closed, I used to walk across London Bridge and just sit or kneel in the side chapel of Southwark Cathedral. Again, the busyness of my mind evaporated and I was able to find deep peace and rest in that place. This particular pilgrimage also had the advantage of McDonald’s on the way back to the office.
I knew nothing about contemplative prayer or meditation except what I learned by experience from just being there and doing it. I think those times of meditation and prayer were highly formative in my call to be a priest even though I didn’t realise it at the time. Although I have not been able to be consistent with this practice over the years I am finding that in recent times I have been increasingly drawn towards daily meditation and prayer.
As we journey through Lent it is perhaps a good time to consider our busy lives and our practice of silence, prayer and meditation within our daily patterns of life.
Rev Chris Noble – Rector
St Mary’s Stansted with Fairseat and Vigo