Bishop's Letter; Enlarge your soul through grief and loss

First published 7th November 2013

This month Bishop Lee shares how some telling questions have been enlarging his horizons and his soul. He ends by leaving us with one of his own.

The title of this message is taken from one of the sections in Peter Scazzeros Daily Office. This collection of biblical themes and reflections is designed to take readers on a spiritual journey and introduce us to a way of keeping God at the centre of each day. For several months prior to my diagnosis of lymphatic cancer I had been using his book as part of my discipline of daily prayer.

What I especially appreciated about Petes Daily Office was its simplicity: 2 minutes stilling oneself before God followed by a Scripture reading to read and dwell in, then a reflection on the reading related to the overall theme of the chapter, a telling question to ponder and explore, a set prayer and finally 2 more minutes of being quiet before God.

The Office is part of Pete and his wife Geris desire to develop what they call Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS), helping believers to integrate our faith with our thoughts and feelings (especially our feelings) and so to grow in maturity as followers of Jesus. I found two chapters particularly hard work and they ran back to back: Journey through The Wall and Enlarge your soul through grief and loss.

These chapters were not tough to understand; what made them difficult was the work required to engage with their themes. I gather that Geri was largely responsible for the questions and here is a selection from these chapters: What is one thing God might want you to unlearn today? What things or people are you rooting your identity in that God may want you to dig up and be replanted in him? Name one or two limits God has placed in your life today as a gift?

What the EHS Office caused me to do was to examine my feelings as well as my thoughts and own them before God - to be searingly honest. One of the more telling questions for me was this: How would it change your prayer life to bring to God what is actually in you and not what you think ought to be in you? No hiding there!

I have been learning through the Office about the importance of Lament, especially in relation to intercessory prayer. Although the focus of many questions was towards self I found time and again they led me into prayer for others which is, of course, the way of God, the Holy Trinity. And I found that God had been preparing me for what was about to come the way of my family and our Diocese through my diagnosis. God was indeed enlarging my horizons and my soul.

No-one in his or her right mind would cry, Yippee, Ive got cancer!, yet in spite of this God has been using an awful reality as a source of blessing and wholeness. It is also evident that God is using what is happening to me to widen others horizons. So like Geri and Pete I want to end this message with a question to help you in this: Where might you have closed your horizons to what God might want for you?

Would you give yourself two minutes of stillness to listen to your own answer, and then another two to listen to what God might be saying? I can assure you, it can only be for long term blessing.


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