Today we had a clergy day of recollection at Ards Friary which also served as my monthly day of prayer. The retreat director said that St Francis would spend long periods of prayer, even whole nights, asking God this question: Lord, who are you and who am I? This may sound like a very abstract question but if we are to have a relationship with somebody, we have to know something about them. If God is a God of love, we need to have some experience of that love in our life.
And who am I? We have so many aspects of our life that seek to define us, establish our identity – our deepest self. We can see ourselves in terms of our work or vocation – I am a priest or I am an electrician. We can define ourselves by how much money we have, our salary, our car and house, how our children have turned out in life and so many other things.
The retreat director said that our fundamental identity is found when we stand before God and listen to what he says about us. We need silence and indeed silent prayer to hear this response. We have to moderate the frenetic work ethic within us and leave time for “idleness”; silence & space for God and ourselves. If we listen faithfully to God, he might say something like the following poem that the director posted on the board and which I photographed with my phone.