Set Pools of Silence in this Thirsty Land



THE TITLE of Archbishop Christopher Prowse’s book, Set Pools of Silence In This Thirsty Land, is taken from a poem by Australian poet James McAuley.

The art work on the cover is a very Australian image of a billabong in Kakadu National Park.

The book is a compilation of reflections from the Archbishop’s spiritual journals.

When I first read through this book I had a sense of another very Australian image. It was of someone panning for gold.

In silent prayer and reflection, the Archbishop has unearthed the gold of God’s presence, in his encounters with people and the everyday realities of their lives.

He generously shares these riches with us. He does not skirt over the mess in which the gold is often found.

As we read, we find ourselves in solidarity with the people within the pages.

The prisoner who on behalf of a group of prisoners thanked the Archbishop for his visit and said:

“It is true we have done bad things but, deep down, we are not bad people.

“Thank you for bringing us the hope and forgiveness we all need: Jesus on the Cross.”

From that, to Tiwi elder Marjorie Liddy and the wonderful airborne lightness of her prayer to the Holy Spirit.

The variety of stories told here reminds us of the many faceted challenges of our Christian walk and our need to be anchored in prayer.

With the emphasis on silence, the Archbishop speaks to our condition.

With great insight he notes that we crave this deeper silence but are so often fearful of it.

We are exhorted to try again, with renewed courage, to befriend the silence.

And how can we fail to be encouraged, when we see in his introduction that he believes, “we are all beginners, when it comes to prayer, and we can all start afresh.

“We can all go deeper.”

What a relief to know we can begin again.

It gives me a real sense, of a way forward in prayer.

One of the great appeals of this book is that it is accessible to all. No one is left behind.

The art works are a meditation in themselves, the contents arranged in brief chapters complete with prayers and quotes from Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

Whether we buy it for ourselves or as a gift for someone somewhere, its light-weight form makes it a traveller.

Christmas is coming and if you want to do someone some good, give them the gift of this book.