More people than you might think still live in religious communities and share the life of prayer – even if their “abbey” is unlikely to look like Tintern (pictured) where I was yesterday. Even more are linked to them as companions/friends/tertiaries and share that prayer sometimes there but more often at home; while other communities have no physical meeting place other than perhaps a website.
I’ve often taught the importance of “praying as you can, not as you can’t” and urged people to try out new forms of prayer as their life situations change. Linking to a religious community in whichever of the ways I’ve just mentioned might be the next step for you.
I’m learning myself how to pray in my own new situation, in retirement without the whole structure of a Diocese to shape my spirituality.
It’s not so different in some ways – I’ve tended to say the office on my own anyway – but in others it is. Family and friends come to mind more as the call to picture and hold before God a very considerable number of people, for whom I have pastoral care, slips away.
So I’m trying out different “ways to pray” for myself. And since I enjoy visiting mediaeval abbeys (as well as modern ones) I’m imagining myself visiting somewhere like Tintern or Fountains when they were going concerns. There’s a clear moment of arrival at the site; a warm welcome; a checking-out of my own needs. Then an invitation into the abbey church to sit and gather myself for a while and sense the peace and presence of God.
Then perhaps I am invited, with some sense of privilege, to draw closer and join the community as mattins is sung.
I might stay with the brothers for the beginning of chapter, sharing greetings and news, and then perhaps walk over to the infirmary where older or ill friends are taking things more quietly. All can be triggers for my own intercession, before I take time again to enjoy the garden, or visit the library to ponder something over.
Early days, and probably too artificial to be permanent, but I wonder if others have tried it, or might like to?