Running Over Rocks
Ian Adams “Running Over Rocks: Spiritual Practices to Transform Tough Times” [Canterbury Press, 2012]
“Arising out of many years of giving workshops and retreats on the theme, Ian Adams explores simple spiritual practices that will enable us to live with imagination, adventure and generosity and to keep our balance in life, even when things threaten to overwhelm us. It offers a series of 25 down-to-earth spiritual strategies for everyday living that can help us not just to cope, but see the difficulties that might otherwise derail us as fresh opportunities to let God of the unexpected come in and transform us. Ian Adams draws on the life-changing possibilities of the Parables of Jesus and the Beatitudes which upend our usual theories of success and wellbeing. The wisdom and work of monastics and contemplatives, activists and artists, and all who are trying to reshape the world for good today are generously shared here”
Ian Adams is the author of the bestselling “Cave Refectory Road”. An Anglican priest and Associate Minister with Fresh Expressions, he is the founder of mayBe, a new monastic community in Oxford. He is a popular Greenbelt speaker and author of Morning Bell, a daily call to prayer that goes around the world by e-mail, text and twitter.
“Beloved life practices 32: less as more
REFLECTION: ‘The idea of perpetual economic growth is bad for our neighbour, bad for the earth, and bad for us. We need to find another way, another motif creed, another goal. We want to suggest that this needs to be the pursuit, not of perpetual growth, but of perpetual harmony, perpetual partnership, perpetual simplicity. As indicated by all the practices in “Running Over Rocks”, any change for good in the wider world needs to begin with us. So this stance of Less as More is about seeking harmony, partnership and simplification in our relationship with the earth and with each other. It’s about abandoning our false complexities and discovering a new simplicity…’
PRACTICE: ‘Wherever and whenever you have a choice to make today, consider the more simple solution as a possible option. Whether you are choosing clothes to wear for work, a sandwich to buy for lunch, or a colour to paint a wall, a choice towards harmony and simplicity is possible. You won’t always choose the simpler option – sometimes there will be other considerations that hold sway – but the act of making the simple option a genuine possibility may encourage us to keep locating ourselves on that more harmonious path – towards a more serene way of life that helps shape a truly happy planet…’”
“I was sad when I finished this book. Comprising fifty-two short chapters, each one looking at a spiritual practice, it makes sense to read this over a year, taking a week to embed each practice into your life, but I decided to do a chapter a day and still gained immensely from doing it this way, taking time each morning over the summer to sit in silence and reflect.
Each chapter begins with one of Adams’ own poems. These were one of the highlights of the book for me. Beautifully written and strikingly insightful, one or two of them managed to reduce me to tears. After the poem comes a short Bible verse and then Adams’ main reflections on the particular practice of that chapter. Again these are sensitively and perceptively written and made me think, ‘gosh, he seems to know something about life!’. I really appreciated his avoidance of platitudes, which can irritatingly plague some Christian devotional writing. Each chapter concludes with suggestions for how to outwork that chapter’s practice in your own life.
I loved the holistic approach that Adams takes. He has a physical and earthy understanding of spirituality that relates it to every aspect of our lives, recommending practices that include the mundane tasks of life (think Brother Lawrence’s, ‘Lord of the pots and pans’…) and our relationship with the world around us, as well as the more obvious practices to do with silence and contemplation.
I was also relieved that the focus of the book is on self-transformation with a view to bringing goodness to the world and society around us. Sometimes books of this type can become self-centred and narcissistic but Adams avoids this, including practices that are justice-focussed, although I think I would have liked to have seen more that encouraged us to get involved in global issues in different ways. Alongside a good emphasis on how we relate to other people, I would also have loved to have seen some practices related to engaging in a church community specifically, whatever that community might look like to different people.
These quibbles aside, though, this was an excellent book with lots of wisdom in it to help us negotiate well the twists and turns that life throws at us.”
Ian Adams “Cave Refectory Road: Monastic Rhythms for Reshaping Christianity” [Canterbury Press, 2010]
“One way in which Fresh Expressions of church are springing into life is through ‘new monastic’ or ‘intentional’ communities, groups of individuals and families living in the same geographic area or connected virtually who share a simple rule of life. Cave ~ Refectory ~ Road explores how traditional monastic life is helping to shape a new flowering of Christian community today. It traces the roots of ‘new monasticism’ and draws on the classic elements of monastic life to suggest how this ancient wisdom, learning and spiritual practice might be reinterpreted for new settings. A handbook for all who are exploring ‘intentional living’, its rich and inspiring teaching is clustered around these themes: The cave: the place of stillness, prayer and withdrawal that can inspire a new engagement with the mystery of God; the refectory: how monastic practices of hospitality can create communities that make a difference in the world; the road: how the example of the friars can lead to creative and loving engagement with public life.”
“An Excerpt from “Cave Refectory Road: Monastic Rhythms for Contemporary Living” by Ian Adams”
Ian Adams presents the monastic path as a viable one for those who want to reshape the world for the good. Here is an excerpt on devotion.
“George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community in the 1930s, a resurrection of community life in the spirit and way of the monastics in Scotland, famously described Iona as a ‘thin place’. He was trying to put words to his experience of living on the island, discovering that it was somehow a place where the gap that we usually sense between earth and Mystery, between us and Other, between now and Always is somehow diminished. On the thin place of Iona some of the separations present in our experience of existence seem to collapse.
“The experience of the monastics provides an insight into the possibility of thin place. I was recently invited to participate in a conversation held by a monastic community who were facing the issue of declining numbers of people coming to commit themselves to the religious life. The discussion focused on how they might respond to this. All options were on the table, including selling up. It soon became clear that among the many reasons that people outside of the community appreciated, even loved, these people was the sense that this was a praying community, and that the place itself had somehow taken on the nature of the prayer made within it. It has a sense of calm, peace and hope.
“The place of rootedness may turn out to be a thin place. It may not start out that way. Perhaps Iona was ‘just’ a beautiful island. Perhaps the Nou Camp was just a playing field. But in time the praying and the playing participated in the coming-into-being of thin place. When we commit to a place, perhaps the same thing will be possible. An emerging religious community might find the pub that it frequents becoming a place where people begin to express their hopes and yearnings, making prayers. An arts project might find its converted studio space beginning to inspire creativity in ways previously unimagined. An ethical trading business might find the generosity and equality of its work spaces triggering off a new desire in others to do things with justice and mercy.”