The week before last I went along to the Christian Resources Exhibition held at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey. This has become an annual trip for me and was my third visit, though in fact I went twice in one week this time. The first time I attended an all day siminar entitled Ways to Pray with six speakers on different spiritual ways into prayer. The mornng began with Heather Fenton on pilgrimage and its roots and history, followed by a talk by Ann Persson on Praying with Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity including a short meditation. The morning ended with Kevin Scully (vicar of a church in London) on Urban Spirituality. I was interested in learning more about Icons because I had been a bit dismissive of them in the past, thinking them a bit idol-ish! In fact they are not, they are a ‘help’ into prayer, much like a candle or a piece of music or a holding cross to still the mind. There is a lot more to it than that and more than I can hope to explain here, but I bought Ann’s book (Circle of Love) which I’ve read and became caught up in how the icons are made. Being appreciative of art I was fascinated by the technique and method of preparing the surface before anything is drawn/painted.
Kevin’s talk made me think too and he suggested that in our busy life we could pray for patients and crew of an ambulance passing, memorising lines from the Bible to use when stuck on a tube train unable to move between passengers, a bit like using arrow prayers. Trying to find quiet times isn’t easy and when you manage it, it’s bliss, but God is there in everyday things and our prayers should be there too.
There was about twenty five minutes in which to eat some lunch and I went and sat in the grandstand overlooking the race track. The view from there is amazing and you can see Wembley Football Stadium. There is so much green and its’s quite peaceful (a little different from race days). After lunch there was a talk by Alison MacTier of the Retreat Association on quiet days – the different types, what to expect, longer retreats and there was a short meditation. Simon Barrington Ward then presented a talk on Praying the Jesus Prayer giving his personal experiences and thoughts which were sincere and enthusiastic. Finally, Ann Lewin spoke on Julian Spirituality which I’d wanted to know more about. I bought two of her books – one a five session study and the other was a book of prayers and poems.
In all it was avery good day. I had a little time to wander round the stands at the main exhibition but I went again a few days later and met a friend there for a more thorough look. We saw a performance on stage in the Arts Theatre and came away with lots of leaflets, and in my case a few more books! There was different siminars running over the four days covering everything from Bible study to youth ministry, arts , IT, leadership and organisations who help persecuted Christians. I come away inspired!