A Deep Spirituality and Wisdom That Touches the Heart, from Some of the World’s Greatest Mystics

Imagine you could step into the Monastery right now – perhaps like the one which we saw in the 2005 TV series, or even the one in this image – and move apart from all the frantic busyness and stress and tension of your life, and receive some deep wisdom from the heart of the mystics.Annaya Monastery

Yesterday I received something very similar at a Quiet Day in St Mark’s Church Leamington Spa where I heard three talks from Bishop John Stroyan, Bishop of Warwick – a man imbued in the literature of some of the world’s greatest mystics. Bishop John is someone who speaks in a lowkey way and yet treasures of spiritual wisdom emerge almost as asides.  There is no stridency, nothing is declaimed; but those listening cannot but be aware that he speaks of the true underlying structure which drives our behaviour, our motivation and our attitudes and the way we react to events and circumstances in our lives.

During his talk he referred to the Martin Luther Memorial Church in Berlin –  which he described as “the most shocking church” he had been into. Figures of Nazi soldiers and members of the Hitler Youth are interspersed with figures from the Nativity, and an Aryan family of the type Hitler wanted in his Master Race also adorn the church. In addition, a strong, muscular, Aryan Christ is seen on the cross. It’s one of  the hundred churches Hitler built, the only one that has survived, intentionally as a chilling reminder of how evil systems can recruit the Christian faith to their cause. Apparently, the Bishop said, both the Nazis and the apartheid regime used Christian clothing for their causes – making God in their images, recruiting Him to serve their agendas.

This is a very strong warning to us, as the Bishop said: “Beware of what we think we know.”

Some of the wisdom the Bishop shared with us included  the observation that “you’ve faced the darkness and come through it, and God will use that as a gift to help others who struggle.”

How often do we see that those who have suffered the most are in the best position to support and comfort those who now suffer in the same way?

He said that pearls are tears shed around grit that irritates the oyster. Some people, as we know, become hard and embittered and resentful around that grit in their lives.

But the Bishop spoke about the weaving of God’s good purposes through events in our lives that we would never choose to happen. “Crises can be the bearers of grace.”

Julian of Norwich said, “In falling and rising again we are always held close in one love.”

An image the Bishop likes to use in his talks is one taken from his life as a dog-lover. He may be taking his two dogs for a walk and when they get the smell of an exciting rabbit, they rush off away from him after the rabbit. He calls loudly for them to come back. They know his voice. And yet they practice what we all do:  “selective deafness”.

Another image comes from the bird world. The mother eagle puts sharp pointed uncomfortable things in the nest to make the eaglets fly..  Otherwise they would stay cosy in the nest. This is the only thing that makes them leave the nest, take wing and soar on the thermals.

Published by SC Skillman

I'm a writer of psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. My latest book, 'Paranormal Warwickshire', was published by Amberley Publishing in November 2020. Find all my published books here: https://amzn.to/2UktQ6x

7 thoughts on “A Deep Spirituality and Wisdom That Touches the Heart, from Some of the World’s Greatest Mystics

  1. Sounds like a beautiful day. The grit that makes a pearl can sometimes cause resentment – oh, how true! So often when we are going through problems, we focus only on the negatives, completely ignoring the many blessings – small though they may be.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I must admit that the image of the pearl, and how it is made, reminded me once again of how cruel it is to the oyster! Though it is a very apt metaphor for the point the Bishop was making.

  2. How interesting. I, too, hadn’t heard of this church in Berlin. To be honest, I imagine that a lot of pictures of Jesus that we see, don’t actually resemble what he really looked like.

    1. That’s right. I saw a TV programme a few years ago exploring the evidence for how he must have looked and they came up with an image of him, in which he was sallow-skinned with short dark hair. I suppose the thing to remember is that every culture seems to visualise him in their own terms. Its a shame that the Western culture seems to have appropriated his image most of all, probably due to the fact that the majority of great painters seem to represent a white European culture. I was made aware of this only yesterday when I visited a fascinating exhibition of nativity sets from around the world – there were images of the nativity figures representing so many different cultures, incluing native American Indians, black African and Indian images.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful talk and a lovely, inspiring day!

    ‘Crises can be the bearers of grace’ – oh, they can. Absolutely. Not that you always see that at the time, obviously (being only human). I didn’t feel all pious and super-spiritual when going through certain crises in recent years, far from it, but lookng back I can see how grace was holding me.

    I’d never heard of that church before. A shocker indeed. 😦 Luther became horribly anti-Semitic in his later years, and that had the most awful consequences … as evidenced in that Berlin church. In our own day, we’re seeing white nationalism trying to co-opt Christianity (again) – repulsive stuff.

    1. Thank you for your comment Philippa. I hadn’t realised Luther became anti-semitic. Not having previously heard about this church I took it that the Nazi regime had chosen to make this a church commemorating Luther, and had, as was their custom with all the churches they built, incorporated the ideology of Mein Kampf into the Christian faith, thus clothing their own world-view in Christian clothing. However I’ll have to look up Luther’s biography and also the background to this church to find out more about it.

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