Lent blog: 12 – MY SUMMERHOUSE

Published Tue, 02/03/2021 by

I spent time yesterday afternoon cleaning out my summerhouse.  I generally vacate it in the last days of October.  I do have a heater in there, but by October it’s getting too dark and cold.  Conversely, by the beginning of March the days have lengthened sufficiently (are even sometimes warm) for a return to the summerhouse to seem feasible.

In a previous blog (#7) I referred to the problems of distraction when praying.  Judging by readers’ responses it struck a chord.  Certainly, I find my summerhouse conducive to meditation and reflection (especially in the Spring and early mornings).

Pre-Revolutionary Russian Christians had a tradition of retiring to a sparsely-furnished wooden hut on the outskirts of a village, known as a Poustinia (Russian for desert).  Inside would typically be only a bed, a chair, a table, a cross and a Bible.  Here the Poustiniak would pray and fast alone in his or her temporary hermitage.  Some Poustiniaks felt called to live this way permanently (with the permission of the village community).  They would have a ministry of intercession for the community, and of spiritual counselling to any who came.  Mother Julian of Norwich had a similar ministry in 14th century England. 

My calling is not of course to a solitary way of life.  But I do find my summerhouse helpfully centering.  It’s a good place to start the day, and to perhaps return in the later afternoon or evening.

How do you find time to turn aside from the hurly-burly to be alone with God?

MICHAEL KIRKHAM