to an inmate in a prison recently speaking of the four walls that was their cell,
to a homeless person who spoke of their need of four walls to escape the cold,
to someone for whom, by circumstance, the four walls of their home had become a lonely place.
Reflecting on them, the words of Lovelace's poem 'To Althea, from prison' echo in the recesses of my mind:
"Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take that for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love and in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above, enjoy such liberty."
Our setting becomes what we allow it to be an although four walls may contain, constrain, and even condemn us to separation - there is no place where the light and love of God cannot shine through and set our souls soaring free from the 'surly bonds of earth' to soar with the angels.
Today I have been privileged to soar with those contained and constrained by health, circumstance and situation, and in the presence of simple bread and wine, proclaimed Jesus, the Christ, Risen Indeed and basked in the Sonlight!
Today I have been saddened to to encounter those in cells of their own making, their bitterness and rancour creating 'ex nihilo' a cell upon whose wall hang paintings that speak of division and through whose windows hell is to be seen!
Today I have prayed for those climbing the steps of the slide - that one way journey that we will all take in the amusement park of life - that each step will be made easy and the final event good; for what is the role of a cleric such as me if not to help people descend the slide as best they can? What better or more honest role can I have other than to help people dIe well?
Today has not stopped - from the first visit to the closing business meeting - from bread and wine to 'bred to whine'. We all create our surroundings, making them what they are to us and living in that illusion thus made condemned or blessed by its perceived nature.
Lord, bring those at the close of life to a peaceful and solid end. Remove from them the pain of the ascent and may the downward journey on the slide be one swift and blessed act.
For those contained by walls of their own making remove the scales from eyes that refuse to see life in all but drab and darkened hues and others in light that casts them as the villain and sees them consumed by the bike that they themselves have made.
Those who live lives fulfilled and crowned by love, yet tinged by loneliness of loved ones passed, 'waiting for God', the television and the the radio for company, the routine and the daily round for curse. Open the door and bring to them Your Church through visits and telephone calls and as they revel in Your image made real in the one before them - help us, Your Church, to set them free.
And for those in prisons real and made of lies and life and others acts - set the captives free and set their souls soaring - for you are our life, our hope, our love and our persistent friend, source of salvation and our external a: unending friend.
Come Holy Spirit, set our hearts on fire and in the darkness of the walls we have, our lives inspire.