It is just after 11 on Tuesday evening. I have just arrived home from a Parish Council meeting in Hawarden, an hour from my home. A closed road meant that two of our team had to make a long detour. A couple of others were unable to be present. We had a good meeting and in my journey home my monkey mind filled with hopes anxieties for parish life here in the Hurunui.
This time last night I had just left a country pub where I regularly meet with a friend to share our experience of Christ over a beer. Christ and beer live well in the same sentence. I remember James K Baxter’s “Ode to the Men of Holy Cross” (the NZ national seminary): “O some with think of Christ at Mass, and some will think of beer. The creek it must run muddy, before it can run clear…”
I have spent today in meetings, with a couple of visits, and some spiritual direction, as well as my own supervision session. The parish council meeting was my last commitment of the day.
After a silent drive through the Scargill Valley I turned on the ipod to shuffle a selection of music. One of my favourite hymns was the first tune to play. The text of “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” is taken from a Quaker epic poem and is usually sung to the tune Repton by Hubert Parry. This Anglican English Church music is magnificent. Happy and glorious even!
Tonight on the journey home I replayed the hymn several times, singing along, then listening in silence. The text was exactly the prayer I needed tonight, and now (when I finish this little glass of milk), I will head to bed confident anew that Jesus soothes my anxieties with his “still dews of quietness.”
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!
With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.