More ways to pray as we move towards COP26
By our co-chaplain, Andrew Norman
Just up the road from where I live in Devon is Clyst St Mary. Back in 1549 an old woman of that village was walking to her parish church praying the rosary as she went along. But she was spotted by the squire, Walter Raleigh (father of the more famous one). As a supporter of the Reformation movement he hurried up to her and warned that she would be punished if she did not stop such practices. But her fellow villagers were incensed when they heard. A riot ensued and that became a major flash-point. Troops were sent and at the battle of Clyst St Mary one thousand local men were killed. Nine hundred more were taken prisoner and lost their lives while the village was razed to the ground. I sometimes think of this terrible episode because like that old woman it’s my practice to pray the rosary as I walk the lanes. It’s a way of prayer that works for me and especially as a way to gather up and hold some daily intercessions. So I’ve started reading the Green Christian Prayer Guide at breakfast and focussing on that as one of the topics to link with the mysteries of the rosary. The rhythm of the prayer suits the movement of walking and both allows for the freedom of further thoughts flowing on – and for just delighting in the wonder of nature around me.
But it also makes me wonder about the tragedy of religion causing conflict and sometimes with such awful suffering and loss. It is a complete denial of Christian faith which is essentially the way of reconciliation. I hope that woman back in the 16th century somehow managed to continue bravely praying her rosary and I am encouraged when hearing of others today who faithfully keep praying in ways that work for them. For in facing up to the conflicts of our times prayer in itself can be the spirituality of hope in action.
For us it is climate change which threatens both human society and all that lives on this planet, so like nothing before. Prayer is at the heart of our commitment in Green Christian – as specifically witnessed to by the Companions of our Way of Life community. The COP26 gathering of the nations in Glasgow this November must increasingly be the object of our prayer: that aspirations will now be made real as each country finally names and firmly agrees the practical actions required. So GC Companions are currently compiling another tried and tested form of prayer, that of the novena. This consists of nine days praying like the Apostles did when waiting for the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1.12). We shall be offering this resource to use from the beginning of September in the Creation Season which many churches now observe. Full details will be available here on the Green Christian website by the end of July.
Andrew Norman. Green Christian co-chaplain