Resting, Reflecting, Remembering - Reflection by Canon Mike


Read Canon Mike's reflection for Tuesday, August 18, 2020.


Liverpool Cathedral · Resting, Reflecting, Remembering - a reflection by Canon Mike Kirby

I often thank God, for all he has blessed me with, and continues to do so.  I’ve just been away for a fortnight, and the main reason for giving thanks is that I was able to do so; I’m so mindful that much as I felt I needed the break after these last few months, there are many who will have needed it far more than I, and yet will not have been able to do so.  My thoughts and prayers are very much for those in such situations.

But, the last two weeks I spent time alone; resting, reflecting, remembering.  Time and space to myself, in a beautiful part of our country which I love so much; Northumberland.  Putting the watch and all electronic devices to one side for a while and just being; not worrying about time, just rest and relax.  Prayer and reflection come naturally – not surprising when one can walk for miles along fantastic beaches, and in such beautiful countryside.  The above photo is just from one of those places, very close to where I was staying this time…..Druridge Bay; a beautiful seven mile stretch of sandy beach, part of the Northumberland Coast Country Park.  Walking barefoot in the sand and sea, listening to my favourite worship songs, seeing people and families at rest and play – it brings one to a place where prayer and reflection come so easily.  Bliss!

And the bible reminds us how important Jesus found such practice – many instances note how, deep within his preaching, teaching and healing ministry in Galilee, he would make time to be alone, to rest, reflect, pray.  For example, in Mark we hear how,

‘very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house… a lonely place, where he prayed’ (1:35, GNB).

Luke writes how Jesus,

‘…would go away to lonely places, where he prayed’ (5:16, GNB). 

And before the miraculous feeding of the five thousand we hear Mark note how busy it was for all of them:

‘There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat.  So he said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest a while”’ (6:31, GNB).    

This last one has such resonance for all of us, whether in just the last few months, or every day in ordinary life, times can be so busy that there is no time to eat or do anything else.  Jesus recognised what an effect that could have – two thousand odd years before our present-day life-coaches!  Whether we can go away for a while, or are just able to make a small amount of time and space in our own schedules and homes or work, is so important.  Those knowing me well, will be smiling at this point – this isn’t something that I am good at; I promise to keep on trying harder!

With the time and space to just be, rest, reflect, pray….there come memories too, often prompted by events at the time.  I always remember my dear parents – for my love of such holidays came from our similar memorable summer holidays together.  But at the end of this fortnight’s holiday, we were reminded so poignantly of the 75th anniversary of VJ Day - 15th August 2020; a day when through the surrender of Imperial Japan, WWII was effectively brought to an end.  My parents were both back in Ceylon during WWII – both recall the sounds of war aircraft often flying over the places where they lived; and the fear it brought even out there.  A true world war.

The memorials over the weekend have been fine, honourable presentations – with grateful remembrance at places like the National Arboretum, the Cenotaph in London and in many local communities too. The stories which emerge are always revealing – of sacrifices made, of the awful conditions and situations our brave soldiers were in and had to endure, especially in the jungles of the Far East.  The brave testimonies of current war veterans are striking, to say the least – what they went through for the freedoms that we now enjoy.  Staggering.

The ending of the war, drawn to a close through the horrific loss of life from the two atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bring some interesting reflections for me in particular as a physicist.  The academic pursuits of Atomic and Nuclear Physics are at the heart of my world of using radiation for diagnosis and treatment in medicine – my professional world of cancer therapy; an example shown in the picture below.  Although much of our work is through the use of artificially produces radiation modalities, radioactivity and nuclear processes which are the basis for atomic explosions, can also used in very different ways for diagnosis and treatment with radioactive tracers for our patients.  It brings discussion on the benefits that we can draw from such science – science used in these tragic events.  The ethics of the whole use of such weapons of mass destruction, though, are thoughts for another day.    

(Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash. Thanks to the National Cancer Institute for sharing their work on Unsplash)

It emphasises to me, the need to use our knowledge wisely, humanely, compassionately…..for the love of neighbour, as Jesus commands us.  The world as a whole sometimes still demonstrates how far we have to go in this respect; that we use our gifts and talents for peaceful outcomes.  We continue to pray for such instances – not just in the actions and decisions of our world leaders, but in the efforts of ourselves as scientists and the responsibility our advancements bring.  We know, as disciples of Christ, that it is only with the coming Kingdom of God will such dilemmas be truly resolved.

I’m going to leave you this time with a prayer – used as an alternative prayer of Commemoration for Remembrance Services:

Ever-living God, we remember those whom you have gathered from the storm of war into the peace of your presence; may that same peace calm our fears, bring justice to all peoples and establish harmony among the nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

May we all, through what rest, relaxation and remembrance we may be able to have ourselves, always be mindful of the sacrifices of others for our sakes, and the quest for peace which should be in the hearts of all the peoples of the world.

With my love and prayers, as always; stay safe…

Canon Mike ๐Ÿ˜Š

While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of our prayer blog, Prayer for Liverpool: