The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Connecting to the Sacred with Intimacy

September 16, 2020

The mystics of the past often made their words of adoration sound very intimate when communicating with the Divine, and they did it in a way that seems to elude us today. Maybe if we reconnect with Spirit in a friendlier way, we might come to appreciate the good in ourselves, even more. 

We open our latest Words of Connection with two poems by Rabia of Basra (717-801) a great Muslim Saint and Sufi mystic, her poetry is deeply spiritual and often sensuous. Rabia progressed from being a slave to a revered poet, healer and thinker. Her writing speaks to us as if she wrote it yesterday. Rabia is followed by St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and his text entitled On Behalf of Love. This is followed by a modern interfaith reading called Intimacy With The Divine, and we close with St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) having a friendly chat with God. This is about all the suffering in the world, it’s called No One Will Begrudge Me.

Once more, I must take this opportunity to thank you for your appreciation and kind words. It makes all the difference to know that you are enjoying Words of Connection.
Stay well, and enjoy the warm weather,
Very best wishes

Chair IFCG


Rabia of Basra (717-801)

my soul
there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church
where I kneel.

Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.

Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is
illumined nothing,

where ecstasy gets poured into itself
and becomes

where the wing is fully alive
but has no mind or

my soul
there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque,
a church

that dissolve, that
dissolve in


Rabia of Basra (717-801)

Maybe if I brought the moon a little closer
lovers would argue

They might hold hands outside and point to
the heavens and say,

“I think God is up to


St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Every truth without exception—no matter
who makes it—is from God.
If a bird got accused of singing too early
in the morning,
if a lute began to magically play on its own
in the square
and the enchanting sounds it made drove a pair of young lovers
into a wild, public display of
if this lute and bird then got called before the inquisition
and their lives were literally at stake,
could not God walk up and say before the court,
“All acts of beauty are mine, all happen on the behalf of love”?
And while God was there, testifying for our heart’s desires,
hopefully the judge would be astute enough
to brave a question,
that could go,
“Dear God, you say all acts of beauty are yours,
surely we can believe that. But what of all actions
we see in this world,
for is there any force in existence greater than the power
of your omnipresent hand?”
And God might have responded, “I like that question,”
adding, “May I ask you one as well?”
And then God would say,
“Have you ever been in a conversation when children entered
the room, and you then ceased speaking because your
wisdom knew they were not old enough to benefit—to understand?
As exquisite is your world, most everyone in it
is spiritually young.
Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day,
one’s self and others. Love would rather die
than maim a limb,
a wing.
Dear, anything that divides man from man,
earth from sky, light and dark, one religion from another. . .
O, I best keep silent, I see a child
just entered the


Stephanie Christopher

In a moment of closeness
With the Divine
I was watering a plant in a flower pot.
Something sacred intervened
And the green leaves glowed
And we all smiled

While chatting with a friend
Over a cup of tea
I heard the voice of the Marvellous
The music of holiness in harmony
Making its melodious way
Through the air
And we all shared it

As I walked through the park this morning
The sun shone
The grass was scrubby
The dogs were bouncing
The joggers jogged
And through the uncertainty
Of the sometimes-fresh air
I felt a hand on my shoulder
And connected to the spirit of love
In all its perfection


St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

I talk about it sometimes with Him, all the suffering in the world.
“Dear God,” I have prayed, “how is it possible all the horrors I have seen, all the atrocities you allow man to commit when you – God — are ever standing so near and could help us? Could we not hear your voice say ‘No’ with such love and power never again would we harm?”
And my Lord replied, “Who would understand if I said that I cannot bear to confine a wing, and not let it learn from the course it chooses.”
But what of a man walking lost in a forest weeping and calling your name for help, and unknown to him he is heading for a covered pit with sharp spears in it that will maim his flesh when he crashes through the trap?
“Yes, why don’t I remove every object from this world that could cause someone to weep? Yes, why don’t I speak in a way that could save a life?”
I opened up my mouth and the Infinite ran to the edges of space — and all possibilities are contained therein, all possibilities, even sorrow.
”In the end, nothing that ever caused one pain will exist, No one will begrudge Me.
The Absolute Innocence of all within my Creation takes a while to understand.”