Who is it that you seek?

Call:  Who is it that you seek?

Response:  We seek the Lord our God.

Call:  Do you seek him with all your heart?

Response:  Amen.  Lord, have mercy.

Call:  Do you seek him with all your soul?

Response:  Amen.  Lord, have mercy.

Call:  Do you seek Him with all your strength?

Response:  Amen.  Christ have mercy.

Anyone who has met our two boys will know that they aren’t quiet, sitting still, craft-loving types.  Any chance they get, they are outside playing football or else racing or wrestling each other.  They are embodied in a way that I have forgotten how to be (or maybe never even knew how to be).

That is why it came as a complete surprise to me how well they responded to spending a few days with the Northumbria Community last week.  The Northumbria Community is a ‘new monastic’ group of people who live and work together, and meet for a regular rhythm of prayer based on Celtic Christian traditions.

We were planning to just dip into the prayer there, and maybe take it in turns between us to look after the boys and go along to join the community when we could.  But the boys didn’t just put up with the prayer times.  They loved them.  They didn’t want to miss any.

What was it?

It was partly being part of a community.  The people there made a point to learn their names and to include them.

It was partly following a written form of prayer.  They followed along the words with their fingers and joined in at the right times.  We were all equals in that sense.

It was also a sense of sincerity and integrity.  There was no pretence, no extra words; just simple faithfulness.  We sat on sofas in a sitting room.  We sang unaccompanied.

I honestly wouldn’t have predicted their response, which just goes to show that maybe I attempt to ‘translate’ faith too much for the boys, instead of giving them a go at the real thing.  I’m not saying that they don’t enjoy crazy action songs, puppets, games, drama and all the other usual ingredients of children’s Christian stuff.  But they were touched in a new way at the Northumbria Community.  We all were.   And the sung responses (like at the top) are echoing round all of our heads and in our hearts and maybe moving us on to deeper things.

3 comments on “Who is it that you seek?

  1. Kay Huxham says:

    That’s beautiful, and it’s what we all want: community, sincerity, integrity without any pretence. I’m really happy for the boys and for you. K x

  2. Judith Lampard says:

    Dear Karen Thank you so much for sharing this. I found it very moving. In a way I wasn’t really surprised, as I’ve long been aware of a- perhaps innate- sense of ‘the holy’ or the ‘the other’ in children. There is a kind of openness, and I was interested in your analysis of the particular gifts offered by the Northumbrian community. I assume that the boys’ enjoyment and sense of belonging would help you and Phil have a very happy time there too.

    Hope the return to school was Ok for them Judith

  3. Katheine Bridge says:

    Sounds like a lovely place for a retreat? I hope you all had a proper break. xx

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