The Same Old Routine . . . ?
In January I spent four days at a favourite Landmark Trust property - a 16th century house, deep in the Welsh countryside, about 3 miles from St Asaph. I realise it was the seventh time I’d stayed there - and also realised that, whenever I go, I do much the same walks and have the same routine.
Perhaps you re-visit places with pleasure? I find this with my own regular walks from the Deanery - I travel the same route up Dinedor Hill - either 5 or 7 miles and I see the same countryside, tread the same paths and yet, strangely, it’s always different - different weather, different seasons, different thoughts in my head. This repetition isn’t something of which we should be ashamed for it’s something which is at the very heart of prayer and worship. Many of us were brought up in a tradition where we repeated by heart - prayers, poems, songs, and the very repetition wove those prayers and poems into our very souls and often, those words come unbidden, in times of uncertainty or crisis.
Many spiritual traditions remind us of the importance of doing things again and again and not tiring of them. And in a world where we’re encouraged always to be doing something ‘new’, it can be a real liberation to be told that ‘repetition is ok’. And it’s not just me who thinks this! I like these words by Archbishop Robert Runcie, when he speaks of ‘the ordinary’ as something to celebrate and cherish:
The world of the stay-at-homes is smaller than that of the traveller, but perhaps they see more deeply into it and gain a wisdom as valuable as the broadening of the mind, which is said to be the result of travel. Each of us, whether a traveller or a stay-at- home, needs a still centre where we sense the things that hold life together. The world needs its innovators and pioneers, relishing new challenges and opportunities, even stimulated by uncertainty. But it needs also its stabilisers, the people who keep us rooted, the home-makers and home-builders.
God is leading us always into new ways, but he is also the stabilizer, holding us secure in his love.
Let these words encourage us, when we feel we may be in a rut or a groove - we may be - but often those routines can be entirely positive and life-giving!
A letter from the Dean of Hereford