Contemplative Word for the month of November


“I will not forget you.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

(Isaiah 49.15-16)


Isaiah’s words proclaim to us that God’s love is timeless and eternal, an intimately personal love and knowledge of every person. He’s got the whole world - indelibly – in his hands, the hands pierced for love of us. He literally re-members us.


This is the season of Remembrance - All Saints on November 1st, and All Souls on November 2nd, when we remember those we love but see no longer. This year on November 11th we will also be remembering most especially,100 years on since the end of the 1St World War, all those who fell or were injured in that and so many other conflicts since. There’s so much agony, as well as great courage and sacrifice, to remember … and it’s all around us still in today’s troubled world.


Dom Erik Varden, Abbot of Mount St Bernard Monastery in              Leicestershire, in his new book, The Shattering of Loneliness, on     Christian Remembrance, explains how from childhood he struggled with a deep sense of all the world’s evil and suffering. Then one day, listening to Mahler’s Second Symphony, the Resurrection, he encountered – recalled – a benevolence he recognised as a personal presence. He writes:


“Mahler let me sense that one can face life without yielding to despondency or madness, since the anguish of the world is embraced by an infinite benevolence investing it with purpose.”


Dom Erik went on to expand this purpose as one of God                re-membering us, God willing us to recall his hands’ holding of our lives, to be re-membered:


“The Spirit refashions our souls according to the Father’s first intention. He makes what is perishable eternal. He raises us from death to life. He renders dust resplendent with a sheen of eternity. Of itself, our soul tends to descend to the state of an ill-kept zoo. By grace, it can become God’s sanctuary. Our misfortune, our only true misery, is ‘our inattention to his care for us’, our ignorance of his gifts. We must learn to be receptive.”


As we are receptive to God’s words of “an infinite benevolence” for this month, they will bring a transforming hope to our lives, and to the lives of all for whom we pray.


“I will not forget you.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”