I am 79 years old so my journey is a long one, but I will condense it as much as I can! Neither my parents nor their family were church goers, so I grew up a nonChristian, but I knew God; and He enabled me to learn the Lords Prayer, Away in a Manger from children’s books, and John 3:16 – this from a roadside billboard. I quickly scanned it and memorised it as we passed it, two or three times a year in a train from Lower Hutt to Wellington.
In my mid-twenties I joined a philosophical group in Wellington and learnt to meditate. This made me more aware of God. Then I married and moved away and began a regular attendance at the Presbyterian Church. I lived in Whakatane for 27 years, where I became an elder and was very active, participating fully in the church and community groups including Prisoners’ Aid Emergency House, and started the Food Bank. The Anglican Church there owns Titoki, a retreat house and healing centre. I sometimes went on two-day retreats and would begin to meditate, but life stayed busy and I soon gave up.
My real experience in meditation began last year when I took over the church library here at St James Presbyterian Church Waihi and donated some of my Christian books, including some on meditation/contemplation – finding God in silence. This brought me in touch with three ladies in the congregation with the same yearnings. I was reborn in the Spirit 31 years ago and was given the gift not of tongues but of silence. For a long time I did not know what to do with it.
In May this year, two of us went to a two-day retreat at an Anglican centre in Hamilton. I was eager to go, I was a dry riverbed, thirsty, and in my first minutes there the water of life began to flow! It has not stopped since. We four, plus one husband, now attend an Anglican contemplative service in Tauranga once a month and have joined the weekly meditation group at St Josephs Catholic church.
The first thing I learnt was that meditation is a discipline and I now eagerly practice it every morning and some afternoons. I have found that saying the mantra Maranatha helps to focus my mind and to block out the stray thoughts that continually intrude. My inner life is so much richer and deeper. I thank the Lord for bringing me to this.
Joan – Waihi