As human beings we are tempted to think in straight lines. Indeed in many ways we are encouraged to do so.
In school we proceed from one year group into the next. We are encouraged to think about the career path we are going to take, as if one step will lead straight to another and on to a clear destination.
Here we are in mid January and we may have set some New Year resolutions. Something out there that we want to achieve. When it is ‘out there’ ahead of us, we can often falter. We can end up experiencing a sense of disappointment and failure and a feeling of inadequacy.
What about thinking in terms of circles and cycles? We are surrounded by such cycles – day and night, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, sunrise and sunset, sleeping and waking, childhood, youth and old age.
The Church too has its repeated cycle of remembrance and celebration. Here we are in Epiphany, having celebrated Advent and Christmas, each stage bringing to us a different aspect and focus for us to reflect upon and from which to grow. And it will all come round again next year and gives us another chance.
When asked what was the basis for spiritual growth, the Dalai Lama replied with one word, “routine”. Routine enables us to practise. Monastic communities have always known this with their rhythm of contemplation and prayer throughout the day, re-created at St. George’s with the daily celebration of Morning Prayer.
We can begin anew each day and join the cycle at any point. For, as the American poet Mary Oliver said:
“Things take the time they take.
How many roads did St. Augustine follow
before he became St. Augustine?”