Philip Sheldrake distinguishes four types of spirituality : ascetical, mystical, practical and prophetic.
In Psalm 95 at Morning Prayer, modern liturgies sometimes stop at the words “O, that today you would listen to his
voice!” In the ascetic tradition, this is a matter of discipline, focussing on God through religious practice. In the mystical tradition, listening becomes hearing, and (whether or not through the practice), a new relation with God is possible. The practical tradition affirms that this takes place here, now, and everywhere, in daily life, not (or not only) in silent or desert places. And in the prophetic tradition, the listening/hearing becomes a reception and proclamation of the word.
Isaiah was in the temple, and saw a visionand felt a live coal touch his lips, while living “in the midst of a people of unclean lips”, and responded “Here am I; send me.”
Thus all four types are possible emphases in these familiar texts. (My commentary, not Sheldrake’s.)
In Japanese class yesterday we learned the verbs for work, rest, and study, which led to some group work which I found embarrassing: When did you get up yesterday? Did you work? From when to when? Did you study? From when till when? When did you go to bed? Even when I was in Gothenburg, it was hard to say what was work and what was fun, and I told my Swedish colleagues that my church had no concept of “working hours” only of a “day off”. Going to church then would have counted as work – but does it now? For the rest, I wrote and responded to the odd email (some re Gothenburg on this occasion), did the odd Japanese kiragana quiz, nodded off over various books, some fact, some fiction, and mended a label on my jacket so that I could hang it over the door handle. Some of these took less than five minutes, and we can only tell the time in multiples of 5.
A memorable phrase, even though the answer needs much concentration: “denwa bango” is the Japanese for “telephone number”. We have also learned to tell the time: 5.55 pm is “gogo goji gojugofun” – time to go home and have some fun.
Having been advised by email from bootsnall that the best flight deals could go up to 200 days in advance, I have booked all my flights for a total cost of less than £2000. LHR-KEF-YHZ-BOS then overland to Seattle – SJC, SFO-ICN, Korea to Japan by boat, then NRT-HKG-HAN-REP-DEL-LHR. Only two seriously long legs, San Francisco to Seoul (12 hours) and home from Delhi (15 hours), the latter being the only one where I have to change planes apart from Siem Reap to Delhi, which if more adventurous I could have avoided by going by bus to the Cambodia/Thailand border and on to Bangkok by train. And no very early starts or late landings. Even with this much notice, the flight I chose from Hong Kong to Hanoi was fully booked at the price offered, but Cristina at Bootsnall helpfully rerouted me to Vietnam Airlines for a small extra cost.