St Cuthbert’s was one of the twelve churches in the Edinburgh Diocese which participated in Thy Kingdom Come, ten days of continuous prayer from Ascension Day to Pentecost.
The church was open for twenty four hours, 9.00am on Thursday 6 June to 9.00am on Friday 7 June and there were always people available to welcome and help as necessary. Both church and garden were prepared to be places to find peace and prayers in different ways. A range of ways to focus on prayer was offered, from icons, candles and a prayer tree (the first thing to see as people came into the church) to picture making and a prayer walk. There were also more formal services, morning, afternoon, evening and night prayer and a final morning prayer service on the Friday morning.
The painting was clearly enjoyed. One of the volunteers had serendipitously found a pile of discarded slates and had brought them with stones in for people to decorate and write thoughts on. These are now in various locations around the church garden. The prayers for healing were obviously very personal and moving. For some people the three “Stilling and Examen” sessions were a new experience. Based on the examen of Ignacias Loyola the basic five steps were becoming aware of God’s presence, renewing each day with gratitude, paying attention to one’s emotions, choosing one feature of the day and praying from it and finally looking forward to the next day. These five steps provide a useful structure to contemplation and prayer.
It is not possible to measure the success of such a venture. What has come back from those who participated in both the organisation and the separate parts of the event is that it was for all very meaningful. One person said that for her the most special was praying the Novena prayers at 4.00am in a silent church, aware of others from the 114 countries around the world at their different times of day and night also praying. For those who simply sat and waited to welcome people it was a time for peace and reflection: even just watching the candles in the darkness at midnight or seeing the daylight come up through the windows and people beginning to go to work through the open door were moving in their different ways. Comments were made about the formal prayer services being “restful and intimate”; about” becoming aware of the many gifts of people in the congregation” and above all the feeling that at St Cuthbert’s ”we are a praying people”.
Compiled from comments from people who took part.