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Reform Magazine | April 22, 2019

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A feast of silence

A feast of silence

If you have been developing a beautiful church garden
and the practice of contemplative prayer, why not put them together? Alexa Barber reports

Two exciting recent developments at Zion United Reformed Church in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, came together in our first ‘quiet garden trust day’ last summer. For the past few years, a small group of very dedicated and hardworking volunteers have created a beautiful, fruitful and peaceful garden from overgrown plots of wilderness next to the church. In its short life, this ‘secret garden’ has won awards and given pleasure and purpose to many in the church and community. The second development was that Zion started exploring contemplative prayer. A small group met once a week in the church cottage, a cosy informal setting. Our group joined the Julian Meetings, a contemplative prayer network named after Julian of Norwich.

I have been privileged to take a tiny part in both initiatives and was very excited at the thought of them coming together for our quiet day. A group of about 17 people gathered – some from our own church, but most from the town, and some from as far afield as Newcastle. Three church members served as facilitators for practical matters so that we could be fully inclusive and no one would feel in need.

After a short introduction and opening worship on the theme of the five (maybe six?) senses, we were offered the day to spend where and how we wished. To inspire, prompt and support our reflections, contemplation and prayer, we were provided with a selection of quotations, Bible verses and thoughts organised around the five senses…



Alexa Barber is a member of Zion United Reformed Church, Northallerton, North Yorkshire

This is an extract from an article that was published in the February 2019 edition of  Reform

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