Rev Bob Whorton 
Chaplain of Sobell House Hospice

Slow down, you move too fast! I recently stopped for a while by Iffley Lock on my way to the hospice.

I sat down on a bench and some large white geese waddled over to me, but as soon as they realised I had no food they waddled off again.

I simply sat. I deliberately relaxed some of the muscles in my body and delighted for a few moments in my breathing.

I listened to the sounds around me – the noise of an accelerating car on the ring-road, bird song and the wind in the trees.

I tried to still my thoughts and open my heart to God. It did me good.

In From the Bottom of the Pond, a delightful book on contemplation, Simon Small, uses a very telling phrase: “The tug to the next moment”.

Most of us find it hard to be truly open to our lives as they are in the present moment.

We will find ourselves pulled forwards from this moment to the fearful or delightful anticipation of the future. Our thoughts dance off in many different directions.

And it is so counter-cultural for us to simply wait and be still – we can easily feel a little foolish. Thrusting, go-getting, successful, can-do people will find it difficult to be still.

And yet by staying in the present moment we will receive spiritual treasure we had never imagined – great riches of inner peace and wholeness.

I am convinced that we need times to stop and find refreshment for our souls. And the more we receive in stillness, the more energy and love we will have for our fellow human beings.

When someone is dying in the hospice, the person and their family are invited into the reality of the present moment. There is nowhere else to be. Everything slows down and the world becomes a small place.

It is often a terribly hard time, but if it can be experienced and lived, rather than avoided and denied, this time can be a profound blessing.

Small things will become very important – a squeeze of the hand, the words “thank you” or “I love you”, shared laughter at memories from long ago, a cup of tea and a piece of cake… In this ‘now’ is the reality of being itself and the sacred is there to touch.

Some of us have too much to do, and some of us have too little to do.

For those whose lives are very, very busy, the invitation is to grab a few moments of stillness in the course of the day.

Quality, not quantity, is the thing.

For a nurse working a busy shift it is possible to disappear to the loo for a few minutes.

For those whose lives are full of waiting and inactivity, the invitation is to intentionally focus some of that time, concentrating, for example, on the breath or some sacred words.

Go on, find your own Iffley Lock moment.