The Contemplative Fire Post
February 2023 - Issue no.62
Welcome to your latest copy of The Contemplative Fire Post where we look back at the what's been and forward to what will come!
Please share this newsletter, invite others to sign up to it, share the facebook group, share the website and the forum, share our community out - and as importantly share into our community too, for only together do we grow into the living flame that is Contemplative Fire!
We have just started the long journey through Lent if you follow the liturgical calendar…
and it is a long journey because its a journey of change, and change is always a process that takes time and energy and thought…
and so no matter how long it really is it feels longs I find, but change can be rewarding too and the journey though long, though at times painful can at the other end be oh so very rewarding as we discover ourselves anew - or perhaps better to say as we discover our new selves…
and isn’t that what Lent is all about? what spring is all about?
the transition from what was dormant or supressed to what is new and budding forthcoming?
I wonder too if for you that sentiment also echoes your experience of coming to Contemplative Fire?
Of the journey into and through many places, some a little painful, many energy intensive, and the time spent before finding this warm place of renewed energy and warmth thoughtfulness just a little long…
but oh the Joy at the end to push through, to come into the light of the fire and to find ourselves again…
I hope that this lenten season will see you renewed, and I hope that maybe at the end of this season you will want to share with us your story of renewal or of finding a place at the edge and being welcomed to the space of Contemplative Fire.
Please share with each other, and others, as you can for who knows what little embers you may relight or seed in others, and do remember that I am always looking for things of interest for inclusion, so please email me your contributions (poems, images, questions, reflections, resources, prayers - anything!) ready for the next edition by the 25th of April - emails to: email@example.com
Many thanks! Melanie
Melanie Carroll C.F. - CFPost Editor
...Holy Rood House Chapel
Some Inclusive thoughts from the Chair
On occasions I have to settle and sit in quiet reflection as I consider a few words to share in the CF Post; however, on this occasion a few things have happened which prompt me without hesitation to write this contribution.
Earlier in the month, the General Synod of the Church of England met in London, the main item on the agenda was a debate on the bishops’ proposal on same sex relationships and marriage following the six-year, churchwide consultation process called Living in Love and Faith. For some the very process itself has been costly in personal terms and they had to bow out of the engagement feeling hurt. For many, the term “radical Christian inclusion” as first coined by the archbishops was going to mean a significant step forward on the road to the full inclusion of LGBT+ folk into the life and ministry of the church. You may well be aware because of the media coverage that the final proposal from the House of Bishops fell a long way short of what many were hoping for, with some saying that enough was enough and tearfully leaving the church which had been a part of faith journeys for a long time.
I have just returned for a deep and rich experience of our CF retreat at Holy Rood House in Thirsk called “Listening to the Space Between” led by Jenny Tipping, a Quaker and teacher of Non-Violent Communication. A touching and meaningful exercise for me was when our small groups of three people, who had met together for a few times, were told we would be joined by six others. This may not sound much but as the three of us had settled into squashy sofas, shared and laughed together there was a real visceral resistance to our little group being broken up, never to reform, with all the unsettling uncertainties of who would be joining us and what ideas they would bring with them. This was a powerful challenge to how we go about welcoming people into our communities, groups, and indeed churches. The sense of the familiar, the shared “squashy sofas” is palpable, and it is a challenge to offer a real and meaningful welcome the “other” who may well be very different from us and ruffle our settled comfortable ways.
This morning as I was going through the CF e mails, there was one mail which asked if CF was an inclusive community as the writer had looked at our website and other documents and could not see it stated clearly anywhere, and wanted to be assured that we are a safe space for all. At first, I was a bit taken aback before I realised that this is something which needs stating clearly and openly as to those looking in for perhaps the first time, may be looking for this reassurance.
Years ago, when I first began to engage with CF I clearly remember Philip Roderick, our community founder, saying to me that the Contemplative Fire Community was inclusive in its DNA, from its very inception. This is the message I clearly want to state here, especially in the light of the current situation in the Church of England, that Contemplative Fire IS an inclusive community, and all are welcome to journey and explore with us in a safe environment and will be shown the deep respect deserved by all.
“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common.
Celebrate it every day”
Go Well, Dancing in Celebration
Subject: Fw: CANA and White Eagle Lodge Event
Dear Contemplative Fire,
CANA (Christians Awakening to New Awareness) is responding to the current shift around the world towards a more interconnected and loving society by coming together with other groupings, both within and allied to the Christian tradition, to explore the emergence of a more universal spirituality. Our present initiative is to organise and hold a conference event with the White Eagle Lodge, who share similar Wisdom-based teachings to those of Jesus the Christ. We therefore warmly invite you to respond to the details attached (https://mailchi.mp/cana/conference-26th-march-liss-east-hampshire?e=d23b0c51bb) and hope that you can both circulate this to your own constituency and that a few of you might be able to join us in person or online.
I was involved with CF when Philip was leading it and came to some events many years ago now, but I live out in West Wales now. I visited Philip and Gill shortly after they retired to Saltdean and was dismayed to learn that both of them had serious illness. I hope they are both keeping their spirits up.
With every blessing
Revd Don MacGregor,
CANA Core Group
This may be of interest to some in CF, as the Quiet Garden Movement our sister organisation founded by Philip Roderick shares very much the same values as our community
Annual Gathering - 20th May 2023 10am - 1pm on zoom
Please save the date for the online gathering. Andrew Rudd, Poet in Residence at Manchester Cathedral, will be our speaker. The theme will be walking in quiet spaces, interspersed with some poetry, music and the opportunity to gather in small groups. We hope that Philip Roderick will join us too. Tickets will go on sale via our new website and Eventbrite (£10.00 for hosts and friends £12.50 for others) in March
Wisdom on the Way - Saturday 4th March!
We recently had a 'Time of Togetherness' led by Graham and Valerie North on "Looking Back, Looking Forward", which was an opportunity to review the year past and the year that lies ahead. If you missed it and would like to watch it back, here is the link:
This will be available for about a month. Do make sure you've got good Wifi / 3G / 4G / 5G to be able to watch it back, as you can't download it from this link.
Also, we are looking forward to seeing you at our next 'Time of Togetherness', which will actually be Sunday 12th February 5-6pm (the second Sunday of the month this time). This one will be a "Many Voices" one, where we all reflect on a quote shared by a Companion of CF and an image and can share a little of our own reflections together within a held context of deeper silence and listening. The link for this has just been shared via email, I hope you can join us.
Ali Dorey writes:
In November last year I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with a lot of things. I managed to book myself a long weekend in Cumbria, around a day of working up there. Either side of the work I really delighted in finding the kind of solitude I find so life giving and faith reorienting. I am realising just how necessary this is for me to sustain myself. I’m
I had an experience walking up a hill on my own, where I finally allowed myself to hear the question I believe God had been asking me for about 6 months; "Are you jealous because I am generous?" I broke down. And said "Yes! Yes I am!" and in the same instant turned to look at the view, saw a rainbow, and realised just how ridiculous it was for me to be jealous of God's generosity to others, given the generosity I myself am experiencing all the time...
Companions and Friends of Contemplative Fire
My friend Judith is an extraordinary person. We trained together for ordained ministry a long time ago. She outshone the rest of us even then, with her unique combination of competence and gentle attentiveness, kindness and creativity. At lot has happened since. Judith now lives with a chronic condition which she manages with characteristic courage and resilience. She is also an extremely gifted potter.
I have commissioned Judith to make me a chalice and patten (communion cup and plate) for CF Gatherings particularly. This time last year Judith’s lovely husband died. On the day he died he made her promise she would keep making, because he loved her so much and knew her need for creativity so well. A year later, Judith has returned to her studio, and our chalice and patten are one of the first things she’s been working on.
The chalice has a trefoil and flame on it. She does some beautiful glazes as well. I’ll share further pics as they arrive… but I believe this is a spark flying between our community and God and Judith. She’s had such a difficult journey of late I am so glad we will get to use something so symbolic made by her.
Ali Dorey Shared: One of my favourite body prayers to do. As I walk slowly I visualise imprinting peace, gentleness, joy, love on this wonderful earth. And I look and listen to the creatures all around and to my own body:
I love this quote from Meister Eckhart...
“The soul is created in a place between Time and Eternity: with its highest powers it touches Eternity, with its lower Time."
And thought this picture suited it a little somehow.
I love Meister Eckharts work too, though I perceive the concept of eternity as also being a temporal thing and am more of a timeless/outside of time kind of thinker...
Probably a little to do with my long essay being on Aquinas' and time and eternity..I now wonder if I'd found Eckhart sooner how that essay would have come out... time is a funny thing.
Working Weekend and Fellowship, St Oswald’s. 14th-16th April. This is an opportunity to support another community with practical help around the grounds, and also to get to know a few in community better as we muck in, and cater for ourselves and share silence together… what could be more appealing? Details have been circulated.
Summer Online Retreat 28th June- 2nd July. After much deliberation, it was felt that as we reviewed the costs of a longer residential retreat, and the cost-of-living challenges we are all facing, that an online retreat experience would be accessible and resource more folk than our traditional summer retreat. Both Kathryn Lord and Ruth Lantorno have adapted the retreat to be engaged with either individually or as a group over this period. There will be a small cost of £25 to join this retreat.
Community Weekend, 29th Sept-1st Oct , Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford. This is just a date for you to pop in the diary, but after such a rich time together at our last weekend, this is not one to miss, especially at such a lovely venue with its incredible chapel.
Silent Retreat- the trustees are deeply aware that one the of sacrifices we have had to make in offering the summer online retreat is that the experience of deep community silence, valued by many has been lost. To this end if any companions would like to join a silent short retreat “Journey into Silence” led by myself then please do get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org and we will endeavour to organise this if a few folk would like to share in this experience, and we know how many are interested.
Virtual Pilgrimage in Everyday Life – Graham North and Charlotte Wright have had some creative discussions about the possibility of an online Pilgrimage to take place over a 4 week period next year. This would be based on three people journeying together and would enable those who have caring or work commitments to join. Input would be recorded and could be accessed to suit each group. This imaginative resource is evolving – watch this space!
Times of Togetherness- The regular monthly online times of reflection and contemplation are being planned to take place usually on the third Sunday of each month. If these are valued by you, they are being organised and you will receive the invitation and zoom links in the usual Way.
Wisdom on the Way- We are planning our usual three Wisdom on the Way, for 2023, an opportunity for us to continue our learning journey together. Our first day will be Saturday 4th March, led by Noel Moules on Christian Animism, to be followed on July 15th an exploration of our Vision and Values to be led by Peter Wright and Ali Dorey. Our final day to be as yet organised in November. All Wisdom on the Way days run from 10.00am -12.00/12.30pm
Gatherings – We are planning for three gatherings during the year, offering an opportunity to share bread and wine together, one for Easter, and one for Advent which will be online, the other will be at the Community Weekend.
Contemplative Fire Lincs - Are restarting their in-person monthly group sessions of Contemplative Stations and reflective activity at St Michael’s Church, Waddington, Lincs on the 4th April at 7pm, and on the 1st Tuesday of the Month thereafter. More details can be found at www.facebook.com/ContemplativeFireLincs
For a full listing of events please visit:
Listening Three's... We have several members of the community interested in joining a Listening Three. Many members of the community find being part of a Listening Three to be of significant benefit and the back bone of their relationship with others in the community. With the possibility of meeting online the opportunity to be part of a Three is open to everybody regardless of your physical location.
Listening Threes are essentially a structured time of silence, personal story-telling and deep listening in a safe context. They are countercultural in that they are not about dialogue and discussion, but about listening. In essence, Listening Threes are spaces where each person is listened to without judgment, and with compassion, whatever they want to say, and where the Divine is also listened to deeply. Threes meet as often as the group chooses to meet, and can meet in the same physical space or online. Sometimes, particularly in the first session, the group might focus on a particular topic, for example, "Being listened to". Or people can share whatever they want to share from their own personal journey. They follow a simple structure where time is held in silence and time is also held for each person to share, or remain in silence, whatever they choose. Typically a Listening Three lasts for two hours, but this can be adapted by the group should they wish.
If you would like to consider joining a group, you are welcome to form one yourself. Members of groups can be Companions or Friends of CF, but equally non-CF members are welcome to join a Listening Three.
In the past, people have found it helpful to agree to meet initially for 2-or 3-times and then to review how they all are finding it.
Do contact me if you would like any support forming your own group. Alternatively, if you feel you would find it helpful to be connected to others interested in being part of a Listening 3 then do email me at email@example.com and I will connect you.
Some Information and resources from our friends...
Are you interested in being trained in a contemplative approach to sharing stories?
OutoftheBox is a movement promoting personal and community wellbeing through the power of story and play. We tell carefully selected and scripted stories in an atmosphere of contemplation that is both light and deep. Our way of being creates a safe and brave space that encourages a playful, creative and reflective response and brings benefit to people of all ages and worldviews.
OutoftheBox stories are in use in a range of settings, including schools, care homes, workplaces, community groups, families, therapeutic settings and faith communities.
For more details please go to https://www.outoftheboxtraining.org/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Whirlow Spirituality Centre is a very special place in the hearts and minds of many in the Contemplative Fire Community. A listing of their events and a link to their mailing list can be found here: https://www.whirlowspiritualitycentre.org/whats-on
The Living Spirituality Connections site has some very good resources on it that may help engage and interest you too.
They do have a very active Events listing that is often worth scanning.
The Contemplative Society may be helpful for anyone new to Contemplative Fire and the Contemplative practices, especially the pages on Contemplative Practice: https://www.contemplative.org/contemplative-practice/
The Quiet Garden Movement nurtures access to outdoor space for prayer, reflection and rest in a variety of settings, such as private homes, churches, schools and hospitals, and creates opportunities for people to experience silence, restfulness and contemplative practices
please do also engage with them through their blog, email list, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Finally a reminder to join the Contemplative Fire Facebook group if you are on Facebook as it is a wonderful place of shared community and is there for all.
Also do remember our own Community Forum too on Contemplativefire.org.
Holding In Prayer.
We offer prayers for Companions and Friends of our community in all situations and the places they find themselves in this time on the journey of their lives.
Philip & Jill Roderick
We offer thanks for those that have known prayer and that their prayers have been heard.
We pray for comfort for those bereaved or whose loss is great at this time, those whose names we know and those we don't.
We prayer for healing for those named and unnamed in our community and communities at this time and for their needs.
Finally we pray welcome and a blessing over and for all those new to Contemplative Fire.
Oh honeyed flame, sweeter than all sweet, delightful beyond all creation!
My God, my Love, surge over me, pierce me by your love, wound me with
Surge over me, I say, who am longing for your comfort.
Reveal your healing medicine to your poor lover.
The Fire of Love. Penguin Classics
Please remember we do have a prayer list that you are invited to send your personal requests to.
Finally again we would invite you to share this newsletter, and get others to sign up to it too, do share the facebook group, share the website, share our community out - and as importantly share into our community too, for only together do we grow inot that living flame that is Contemplative Fire!
Remember please do send us your inclusions for the Contemplative Fire Post - This is your space to share to our wider community and there is nothing too small or too big to share that will not be welcomed by your fellow companions and our friends!
We really are looking for things of interest for inclusion, so please do share by emailing your contributions (poems, images, questions, reflections, resources, prayers - anything!) ready for next edition by the 25th of the month - emails to Melanie at email@example.com