I was once part of a consultation team for the BBC to do with religious broadcasting. One particular morning we were supposed to begin our meeting with a meditation led by a Dominican friar, Father Simon Tugwell. Somewhere outside the building there was the sound of the Beatles’ song, Let it be! At once Father Simon stopped the meditation and said we could not proceed until someone located the transistor radio and had it switched off. I thought then, and still do, what a missed opportunity that was, for the lyrics of the song provide a perfect beginning to a meditation: Let it be. Let it be. Whisper words of wisdom. Let it be.
Sometimes in summer our group will sit in the back garden to meditate. There is the sound of children playing in the park, the sound of birds, of passing ambulances, or an aeroplane overhead. We don’t try to ignore these but simply acknowledge children, birds, cars, aeroplanes, and even to include them in the meditation.
I recall how on one of my birthdays in Wales, my dear priest friend John Hencher was celebrating, as part of my 50th birthday celebrations, a special Eucharist in my study where about ten of us sat in a circle. During the consecration prayer the phone in the other room began to ring incessantly. John at once wove this interruption into what he was saying, observing that this was the outside world wanting to break in, and rather than exclude it, to hold in our thoughts whoever it was trying to make contact.
I have written elsewhere of the occasion when I was celebrating a Eucharist in a small country church in Herefordshire when, during the prayer of Consecration, little Becky, who was somewhat retarded, suddenly began to call out ‘Amen! Amen!’ Rather than ignore her or tell her to be quiet, I looked up, saw her shining face and joined in with her, saying over and over the words ‘Amen! Amen! Amen, Becky!’ The faces of all the others lit up with smiles. It was a moment of epiphany.