16 September 2010

Watton at Stone - Making a start

This evening was a new departure for us. Instead of meeting in my home or at Jim's or Sean's, we travelled down the A1 to Watton at Stone, a village just beyond Stevenage. We met at an old pub called 'The Bull'; it's full of ancient timber and has an enormous brick fireplace with a massive oak beam supporting the chimney breast above.

The Bull, Watton at StoneThe reason for meeting further south is so that our friend David can join us. David lives in north London, just inside the M25. It took us and him about 40 minutes from home, much more manageable than the hour and a quarter for the journey from London to St Neots or vice versa.

I had expected 'The Bull' to be a tired sort of place and with only a few people present (based on an earlier daytime visit). But it turned out to be quite busy, clearly a favourite meeting place for local people. We asked Father to bless the place itself and the people who use it and it will be good to get to know some of them a little as the weeks and months go by. We plan to meet here every other Thursday and we'll try Skype as a way to 'meet' online in the intervening weeks.

Sean and I arrived early so we found a table and sat chatting with a drink each. When David arrived we talked about our lives and recent events and then took turns to share our feelings using SASHET as a framework. We also talked about our thoughts on what Yahshua has been saying to us. I felt that these components of CO2 were very effective in this face to face environment. We bought coffees (which were small but really quite good).

Finally we prayed together for a few minutes, slightly self-consciously on my part. Here we were in a corner of 'The Bull', surrounded by people chatting and laughing. Should I close my eyes (which might make me appear rather odd) or keep them open (which would make it harder to focus) or close them but try to hide the fact by lowering my face and leaning on my hand (which is what I finally did after trying to pray with open eyes and finding it difficult).

David thought that the early church prayed with eyes open and the habit of closing them was introduced later. Maybe I should practice prayer with open eyes to become more comfortable with it. The strange thing is that I can pray this way while I'm walking or driving, prayer is just a conversation. I've never really thought about it before, but why does it seem necessary to close my eyes when I'm sitting in prayer with others?

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