Revd Rita Ball has invited Revd Dr Simon Thorn to write the letter for this edition
ESCAPE THE CROWD AND FIND THE PEACE
Oh no! not another bag to trip over, another heel trodden on. It seems there’s no escape. Go to Blackpool, Bournemouth or Benidorm, or take a trip into Oxford, London or Venice, and you’ll find yourself trapped in a swarm of people.
Sometimes you might as well be on a commuter train or in a department store lift. A day of trying not to bump into people, of watching your back and struggling to block out the incessant background noise is exhausting. Holidays don’t seem to be relaxing anymore. Travel chaos and oppressive crowds are not what you need when you’re trying to recharge your batteries.
But, it needn’t be so; with just a little more effort, you can walk further along the beach, away from the car park. You can take a detour down a side street or find a less-hyped attraction. Then you’ll find some peace. It might be a distant sand dune or woodland. It might be a picturesque castle estate off the beaten track or a secluded church tucked away from the main town square.
In this age of 24-hour news, instant global communication and the seven-day working week, it’s difficult to switch off. It seems everybody is demanding your attention all of the time. This isn’t just a 21st century problem of modern living. Jesus often found himself surrounded by crowds clamouring for his attention. He was frequently bombarded with questions by his disciples.
The Gospels tell us that after these exhausting encounters, when he needed to think and to pray, Jesus withdrew from the crowds to a deserted place: sometimes a hilltop or the other side of a lake. It was after one such occasion when he had been praying alone, that his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, and he gave them what we now call the Lord’s Prayer: Our Father in heaven.
Try it for yourself. Escape the crowd. Find a quiet place, be still and listen. Without the constant pressure and distractions, you can open yourself to God’s voice and find the deep peace you need.
The Revd Dr Simon Thorn
Dean of Winchester College Chapel, Associate Priest Hermitage Parish