Written by Trevor Miller
There’s a foundational story for us in Community, written by John Skinner, about ‘Geordie the monk’, which we included in a previous blog post. Geordie is a seeker‐after‐God, who on his journey encounters all the pitfalls and snares that we all know so well. As he seeks the help and wise counsel of his Abbot, he is encouraged time and again to ‘go to your cell, and your cell will teach you everything…’ The advice given to Geordie has become foundational for us in our quest to live in the questions; ‘Who is it that we seek?’ ‘How then shall we live?’ ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’
Listen to Catherine Askew reading this teaching aloud below:
So what is ‘the cell’, and what does it mean to go there? The cell is a language of the heart, not easily communicated in our clumsy words – there’s an old saying which applies here, that ‘it’s better felt than telt!’ but we can begin by looking at where the idea of ‘cell’ has come from.
Seeking God on the ‘inner journey’ in the cell of the heart is teaching from the monastic tradition. Monastic teaching attaches great importance to ‘seeking the one thing necessary’ – indeed the very word gives the clue to this. It is a tradition which attaches great importance to the seeking of God alone, and seeking Him for ourselves: ‘Seek God for yourself; don’t get someone else to do it for you.’ (Northumbria Community Rule) The monastic tradition uses language of ‘desert’, ‘silence’, ‘solitude’, and ‘the heart alone with God’
For us in Northumbria Community, this is the heart of who we are; it’s where we find a language to express who we are. It’s the call and the gift of God to us. Our Rule is a scaffold for life, wherever and however it is lived out ‐ a framework which is built on these principles, and which enables us to live in the chaos of the modern world.
So, let’s draw out some of the characteristics of the cell
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