"Queen's House" Greenwich II, 1978, Ben Johnson.
Ben Johnson has taken as his special theme the way light shines on emptiness. The Queen's House, Greenwich is utterly still, utterly bare to our gaze. We are presented with a silent vista, not so much an invitation to advance through the arch and onwards as to stand motionless and simply contemplate. There is almost tangibly no sound, and what Johnson manages to suggest, implicitly, is that the richness is in the standing still, the non-acting. Just to be there, to take our smallness into this classical poise, is to become more potentially our true selves; it is not outer reality that is revealed, but our own innerness. Contemplation is essentially a surrender to the holiness of the divine mystery, whether we use these words or not. An atheist, calming his or her spirit in the peace of silence, is irradiated by the same mystery, anonymous but transforming.
Prayer: (Breath Prayers)
Like me, your mind wanders sometimes when you pray. Breathing a prayer to God is a simple way of using your body to engage your mind on the Word of God. Whispering the words of Scripture as you are breathing in and out, slowly and deeply, over and over, can help you to “abide” in Christ (John 15:4,5,9).
Richard Foster in his book, Prayer, refers to this kind of meditative prayer as “prayer of the heart” (p. 141). Quiet, reflective prayers are a way to overcome the mind’s tendency to wander and get distracted. It’s a way to increase your consciousness and appreciation of God’s presence. It’s a way to “let the word of Christ dwell in your richly” (Colossians 3:16).
A Breath Prayer Example
You may be unsure exactly what a Breath Prayer is. An example of the kind Breath Prayers that I use is “The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want.” Here is one way I do this:
Breathe in slowly and deeply as you whisper or think: “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
Hold your breath and your consciousness of God’s presence…
And then exhale as you whisper or think: “…I shall not want.”
The iterations of this are endless. Here are a few more examples. Choose one and spend a few minutes in Breath Prayer this day...may you find that the empty places are rich, and not empty at all.
Breathe in "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God"
Hold, conscious of whom you are addressing...
Breathe out "have mercy on me a sinner"
Breathe in "Father..."
Breathe out "into your hands I commit my spirt"
Breathe in "In Christ alone..."
Breathe out "my soul finds rest"