By Paul Taylor
About 18 years ago a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in helping form a contemplative prayer community that would mostly cater to the spiritual needs of those living on the margins, the really poor. Sue, the person who proposed this had a long association with the poor and under the influence of a very charismatic Jesuit called Fr. Brian Stoney, she had come to deeply believe that the only way to find a real relationship with Jesus was through real friendship with the poor. Sue was never interested in being a do-gooder, she in fact felt that the poor through their experience of living with vulnerability had far more to offer us than the other way around.
All this intrigued me greatly and as I had only recently become a Christian and Catholic I was very open to exploring different ways of deepening the journey. So I joined Sue in this undertaking and invited my wife Judi, her brother Peter and a few others to join us. Some 18 years later the DAVID’S PLACE COMMUNITY is still going strong with 4 prayer meetings a week, monthly Mass/ BBQs and annual retreats at the Benedictine Monastery at Arcadia which is in the north of Sydney.
The Community has always been contemplative in that we used to start each meeting with a guided meditation and then ask people to share the best moment in their day. We always share scripture and finish our meetings by praying for people or situations that are in need of help.
I took the step of introducing CHRISTIAN MEDITATION into our meetings about 4 years ago. I was not at all sure how it would be received so I started off by doing it for 5 minutes and extending it by a minute each time we met. We are now doing it for 20 minutes and there are never any objections and certainly, since we have been doing CM I have noticed people are sharing at a much deeper level particularly when we discuss the Gospel reading. One of our group likes to combine meditation with having a cigarette and another sometimes gets up and makes a cup of tea but they are both very quiet and don’t disturb the others.
Our annual retreat at the monastery is a great opportunity to deepen friendship and our meditation practice. Some of our group aspire to going to BONNEVAUX and love the idea of such a place existing somewhere in the world. Their experience at the monastery has shown them the great value in sometimes going apart. They totally get the value of deepening meditation practice. Who knows maybe one day the WCCM may be able to support DAVID’S PLACE in allowing them to taste such deepening that BONNEVAUX will surely offer.
We as a Community are being asked to move. We currently meet in a decommissioned church which unfortunately is about to be sold. We would very much appreciate being held in prayer by the meditators of the WCCM during this challenging time.