A major theme in anchorite spirituality is freedom. Unlike more traditional monasticism, where the major theme is obedience, anchorites have the freedom to build their own spirituality alone. I think, in a way, this is how in a modern context, the ancient tradition can be lived. Built around prayer, meditation, and reading, the anchorite builds their life in freedom completely focused on Jesus.

So I found this quote from Merton that says it much better:

This means I must use my freedom in order to love, with full responsibility and authenticity, not merely receiving a form imposed on me by external forces, or forming my own life according to an approved social pattern, but directing my love to the personal reality of my brother, and embracing God’s will in its naked, often unpenetrable mystery. I cannot discover my “meaning” if I try to evade the dread which comes from first experiencing my meaninglessness!

Contemplative Prayer


After Communion yesterday I had this very strong sense that Jesus is saying to me:

I surrender justice and “being right” for love of you.

I had a sense of being called to share in the cross in a special way. Psychologically I can see where that sense originated – I have decided on a new life. But Jesus gives up everything, including any concept of justice, on the cross for love of me.

Or, of course, it could simply be the leftover wine that I drank!?

Psalm 139:7

Refrain:    Search me out, O God, and know my heart.

1    O Lord, you have searched me out and known me;  ♦
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
2    You mark out my journeys and my resting place  ♦
and are acquainted with all my ways.
3    For there is not a word on my tongue,  ♦
but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
4    You encompass me behind and before  ♦
and lay your hand upon me.
5    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,  ♦
so high that I cannot attain it. [R]
6    Where can I go then from your spirit?  ♦
Or where can I flee from your presence?
7    If I climb up to heaven, you are there;  ♦
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8    If I take the wings of the morning  ♦
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9    Even there your hand shall lead me,  ♦
your right hand hold me fast.
10  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will cover me  ♦
and the light around me turn to night,’
11  Even darkness is no darkness with you;
the night is as clear as the day;  ♦
darkness and light to you are both alike. [R]
12  For you yourself created my inmost parts;  ♦
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
13  I thank you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  ♦
marvellous are your works, my soul knows well.
14  My frame was not hidden from you,  ♦
when I was made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
15  Your eyes beheld my form, as yet unfinished;  ♦
already in your book were all my members written,
16  As day by day they were fashioned  ♦
when as yet there was none of them.
17  How deep are your counsels to me, O God!  ♦
How great is the sum of them!
18  If I count them, they are more in number than the sand,  ♦
and at the end, I am still in your presence. [R]
19  O that you would slay the wicked, O God,  ♦
that the bloodthirsty might depart from me!
20  They speak against you with wicked intent;  ♦
your enemies take up your name for evil.
21  Do I not oppose those, O Lord, who oppose you?  ♦
Do I not abhor those who rise up against you?
22  I hate them with a perfect hatred;  ♦
they have become my own enemies also.
23  Search me out, O God, and know my heart;  ♦
try me and examine my thoughts.
24  See if there is any way of wickedness in me  ♦
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Refrain:    Search me out, O God, and know my heart.

Creator God,
may every breath we take be for your glory,
may every footstep show you as our way,
that, trusting in your presence in this world,
we may, beyond this life, still be with you
where you are alive and reign
for ever and ever.

Common Worship: Daily Prayer

Psalm 139:7b is the verse about anchorites!


I very rarely discuss “church politics”. In fact, I have very little interest in it and find it somewhat confusing. It also makes me anxious and angry.

That being said, here is a motion to be discussed at the Anglican Church in Australia General Synod:

Of course, it is in a much wider context and really needs to be understood in that context. But I am somewhat pleased that singleness gets a mention. It is also interesting that it is seen as a state in the church rather than a negation.

Anyway, it is to be discussed today along with some other issues.


And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Romans 12:1 (NLT)

I have been thinking about the word “sacrifice”. It carries baggage within theological circles – it is often connected to “death”. But what if we define it as a surrender of a lesser good for a greater good? So, in other words, define it in terms of “love” rather than “death”.

So the above, which I have always found a very interesting verse to ponder, would become something like:

Let your bodies be a living and holy surrender of love to God.

But I am no theologian!!!


I have vivid dreams. When I wake I am never sure if it was a dream or something that really happened. Sometimes that confusion can last for a couple of days and I have to remind myself that it was not real but a dream.

I have often wondered about the meaning of these dreams. Are they signs from the Holy Spirit? Or simply a physical reaction to chemicals in my brain?

Well, I am not the only person who has wondered about the topic! I have been reading Richard Rolle’s The Form of Living. It is less rule than a guide to anchorite ascetics. Rolle discusses dreams – “our enemy will not allow us to relax when we are asleep”. Yes, sometimes they are from God but often they are simply neurotransmitters firing in your brain.

Maybe it is living basically alone that means I have vivid dreams? Or maybe it is the way that God has made me? But I have found Rolle helpful – move on and trust Jesus.

the invisible anchorhold

Yet, it is anchoritic contemplation (facilitated by enclosure) rather than anchoritic enclosure in itself which renders his recluse dead to the world. The shift is slight, but nonetheless discernible.

Reading Medieval Anchoritism: Ideology and Spiritual Practices


One of the things that I struggle with is the desire to be heard. Yet most of the time, as soon as I start speaking, I am extremely sorry for having said anything. And I end up kicking myself for speaking at all.

Here is some advice from Walter Hilton:

And to sum up: inasmuch as you believe you can bring profit to your fellow Christian – in particular, spiritual profit – you should say what you can, if he will listen; and in all other cases keep silent as much as you can, and in a short time you will not have much of a crowd to bother you. That is how it seems to me.