I have loved going to places of pilgrimage in Tokyo and blending into the background as I watch the expectation of the sacred or seeking of the experience of the sacred. Yet at Sensouji, it was not so much the obvious places where I found the sacred, but somewhat off the beaten track. Old treasure, lighting, stillness, solitude or the wind offered wonderful reminders of that ever present divinity – if only we will stop long enough to look, to see, to hear and to feel.
I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the ways in which difference is held together in Japan, and the Japanese understanding of beauty and stillness. I have been struck by the number of people from other lands who have made Japan their home for so many years, as well as reflecting on my own story, and why I returned to Britain after living here for four years. There is a mix of ancient and modern, secular and sacred, stillness and disturbance, each held in such close proximity.
There can be invitation alongside hostility…
…it can feel like two parallel universes; equally as a foreigner here, all that I have known can feel like it is from a parallel universe, one that is presently inaccessible.
Rituals and respectfulness can demonstrate the beauty of the soul.
Often blue sky and sunshine can elevate the soul.
Equally, without warning, unfortunate events unfold; those that you would much rather leave behind or not have to receive, like ‘bad fortunes’ that can be left in the safety of the shrine rather than accompanying you home.
Then there are customs which bring you to your knees, like these prayers for children – especially those who did not have very long with us – given hats and bibs to keep them warm, as well as windmills to offer relief from the sun.
It seems that there is nowhere quite like this wonderful place of contradictions amidst harmony – where space or stillness is sought after within a busyness that I may never truly understand….
#560 What do you #rely on, or cling onto? What keeps you standing when it feels like the world is against you? #Iamstillstanding
#482 #theartofholylistening #listeninsilence #thegiftofvoice How often do we really listen, and allow someone to say all that they need to? #bestill #bewith #beinthemoment
#432 Where do you find God? In the busyness or in the quiet? This will be my next #placementchurch until Easter and there is a beautiful #ladychapel where you can really feel #God in the silence and stillness.
#354 I came across this bench randomly which seems to encompass the beauty of relationship as #togetherness, #stillness and #solidarity for me. It’s a rare find, but a real treasure when you do find it!
#258 This afternoon there was a #powercut in the village which stopped me in my tracks. I had been doing some work but the Internet and printer were both off. I had been meaning to get a cup of #tea for some time but that was not possible as even the hob is electric. There was no radio, no tea, no food (I was just going to toast some crumpets) and no phone as there is little to no signal without an Internet boost. It was a very quiet hour which made me think about how much I take for granted in our modern, fast paced society. After the power returned, my tea and crumpets tasted better than ever, but I also appreciated the #stillness and #silence. whilst it is an inconvenience, there is a greater #appreciation for something once it has gone. It made me wonder what, or who, in life should I have more appreciation of before it is too late…
#204 What a perfect location for #studying There is a real sense of #stillness and #presenceofgod
Just lovely! Where do you feel most comfortable and creative to work? (at Cuddesdon)
#108 I struggled to photograph #stillness, which is in itself telling as I think we struggle to put it into practice. Nevertheless #psalm62 tells us to “Wait on God alone in stillness, O my soul; for in him is my hope.” Do you need to find God in stillness today?