Here are some links and items that have been recommended by Spidir members. Obviously some are specific to Lent but you may still find them useful and inspiring.

If you have any resource ideas, please send the material or a link to me, John Philpott-Howard,

(1) FROM Julie Léger Dunstan, Director for Formation and Professional Development, London Centre for Spiritual Direction

This is a short blog written in response to the disturbing news of Jean Vanier and its implication for spiritual direction.

(2) FROM Peter’s House  – LENT IN ISOLATION

Peter’s House is a Catholic creative project studio based in London which aims to support the mission of the Catholic Church through project management and content development. 

The project has created resources for Lent ‘especially as this season of Lent now clearly coincides with circumstances never experienced by this generation. The world is gripped with fear and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments, institutions, and organisations react to this unprecedented and seemingly uncontrollable crisis, our populations are being forced into isolation, separated from friends and family.’

(3) Church of England #LiveLent: Care for God’s Creation

#LiveLent: Care for God’s Creation is the Church of England’s Lent Campaign for 2020. With weekly themes shaped around the first Genesis account of creation, it explores the urgent need for humans to value and protect the abundance God has created. This year’s #LiveLent challenge offers 40 short reflections and suggested actions to help you, your family and your church live in greater harmony with God, neighbour and nature.

It has been inspired and informed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2020 Lent Book, Saying Yes to Life by Ruth Valerio (SPCK).

You can sign up for emails & Alexa or Google Home broadcasts

(4) Archdiocese of Southwark’s Stewardship Team

Over the weeks of Lent the Archdiocese of Southwark’s Stewardship Team, in collaboration with the diocesan Spirituality Commission, will send out Sunday reflections – you sign up for them at

(5) The World Community for Christian Meditation

There are large numbers of media resources at this website

(6) Jesuits in Britain – Pathways to God

Includes Lenten material – JOURNEY INTO FREEDOM: LENT RETREAT 2020

(7) The Dominican Friars – England & Scotland

Includes Spiritual Resources for Times of Isolation at

and a number of livestreams of services at

(8) Poem © Diana Pinchin (Catholic Spirituality Network)  


A time to be still and at peace, in silence you came to us.
As we seek to find you, we welcome you into our hearts.
We open our inner thoughts to you,as you know what is on our mind.
We seek your will for our lives,  as we sit is stillness with you.

Prayer is a two way conversation, words at times are not needed. 
Silence and stillness are all we need, both when alone and in a group. 
Prayer is powerful, and can change lives,
Sometimes in a big way, but often it is a gentle push. 

We need trust and confidence, to believe you have a  job for us, 
and we need to say yes, however hard the yes may be. 
Pray can also bring release to those, in need of a healing touch. 
We just prayer for that healing touch, whatever form the healing takes.

Prayer can also support communities, who seek to know the will of God, 
as churches reach out to those in need.

 ©  Diana  Pinchin  May 2019 

(9) Woodbrooke, the Quaker study centre in Birmingham

Runs a variety of courses and retreats and since Spring 2020 their online offering has developed hugely. They are open to everyone (though a few are probably only relevant to Quakers). In normal times the centre is also a beautiful and quiet place to stay, for personal retreats or meetings, with a good library and an amazing garden. (Submitted by Linda Murgatroyd)

(10) Seeding the Spirit: the Appleseed Workbook, by Chris Cook and Brenda Heales.

A workbook for individuals or groups wishing to explore themes of prayer, meditation, the mystics and the arts. The authors offer diverse ways of responding to these themes through simple creative activities and provide detailed instructions on how to do so, based on their many years of working in their Appleseed ministry at Woodbrooke and travelling widely. Distinctive, inspirational, enabling and impeccably presented. 

This is available from the Quaker Bookshop . If it’s not on their website you can still order it by email. (Submitted by Linda Murgatroyd)

(11) Praying for the Planet: monthly email from Jane Upchurch

If you would like to receive this email please contact Jane at

Here is a sample from a recent email:

Thursday 17th September is the new moon, the day we particularly remember our beautiful planet in prayer, meditation, awareness or involvement, with love, hope and gratitude.

Noticing and absorbing the presence of a beautiful flower, a magnificent tree, a sunset, the deep peace in a forest, a spider’s web caught with rain drops, a butterfly, our garden, are all ways that any of us can enlarge our inside space by focusing on an outside place.  You could call them an altar, somewhere to stop and be aware that the world, and we, are bigger than we thought.  The world of spirit doesn’t just live in religious institutions, it inflames the world around us and hovers at the edge of perception, waiting for us to notice.

What altar can you find today?

Into the garden

What is it
that calls me into the garden
on a soft spring day?

What music
of leaf and space and sun
moves me,
finding harmonies of soul?

The air is charged
with the presence of spirit
making every garden
an altar
where the mundane and the sacred

(12) Spidir AGM  & Lecture June 28th 2021: report

John Philpott-Howard

Over 40 members of Spidir came to the AGM and Lecture day in June, which took place on Zoom. The AGM will be reported elsewhere, but we were delighted to be able to link up with Liz Watson in Cornwall.  Liz is a member of the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM), including a term as UK National Coordinator.  She now focuses on teaching and leading retreats as well as offering Spiritual Direction (there is more information about Liz on the Spidir website). The title of the Lecture (actually two talks plus discussion in breakout rooms, and a plenary session with Q&A) was Silence and Self-knowledge: Wisdom from the Desert. Liz  framed the talk in response to the questions, Why have our Christian friends through the centuries seen silence and self-knowledge as indispensable elements in spiritual growth? Is it still true for us today? Firstly Liz reminded us of the early Desert Fathers & Mothers, their thirst for God that led them into the desert and how they learned from older practitioners the ways of retreating into it. We often view ‘retreats’ as a time of respite and refreshment but they went there for encounter and transformation of self, God and neighbour. Particular examples mentioned were John Cassian, Evagrius and Abba Poenem. Some received phrases or words to use in meditation (e.g. ‘Psalm 70 ‘God make speed to save us, O Lord make haste to help us’ or more simply, ‘Maranatha’ (Aramaic, ‘our Lord, come’ – 1 Corinthians 16:22). We then had a time of meditation during the morning.  

How do we ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)? With meditation, prayer and life become one. We approach things differently and develop the ability to attend and listen; this affects our whole life – we don’t fill it with noise and distractions. Outward silence also aids the inward silence, which is fruitful for allowing the Spirit to work. But we have to beware of observing silence, yet having an inner critical or condemning heart. Or we can be the opposite – ‘babble all day’ (!) but have an inner silence.  

Self Knowledge is also linked to God-knowledge (St Augustine said that they are two sides of the same coin). We then discover what is at the centre of our heart where faith resides, and we can clear away obstructions and other things that get in the way. We become less tied up with ourselves, and focus on others. This leads to ‘Poverty of Spirit and Purity of Heart’ (Cassian).  We begin to notice (i.e. practicing Nepsis Gk., to notice, watchfulness). Evagrius said that we deal with our conflicted disordered emotions which include ‘acedia’ (sloth, boredom, restfulness). Overcoming acedia leads to peace, resolution and joy, and love of others; we avoid turning into ourselves and turn outwards. This is especially important for Spiritual Directors, in order to see what is happening in the other’s life as they journey on the path. 

Our discussions included comments on deciding what is the best way for us (there isn’t one way for all); review of the differences between contemplation, meditation, mindfulness & centering prayer, etc; what do we do if we feel our own meditation is not good; and what are our motivations in all this.  There were some recommendations for books such as The City is my Monastery (Richard Carter); The Solace of Fierce Landscapes (Belden C. Lane); The Practise of the Presence of God (Brother Laurence); and The Desert in the City (Carlo Carretto).  

Liz was warmly thanked for her talks and for guiding us through an excellent day.


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