World’s oldest working clock in Salisbury Cathedral

STAYING FOCUSED. Keeping time. Concentrating on the task in hand. There’s a science involved, isn’t there? There needs to be, because staying focused presents major difficulties for most everyone I know! Me included.

A day or two ago I suggested that in this 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible I’d keep returning to some of the ancient texts that have touched my life since small boyhood. One of the earliest I learned is Psalm 8:

O Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the world:
thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens.

As a young lad I was fascinated by old clocks. So it dawned on me early that an important part of a clock’s works is the ‘governor’ that’s responsible for the operational speed of its timekeeping. The governor ensures that time is ‘redeemed’ as opposed to ‘random’ or unfocused. I trained for the priesthood in Salisbury and loved spending time near the world’s oldest working clock in the staggeringly beautiful cathedral there. So I’ve long meditated when I’ve needed to keep focused, turning in silence to the ‘Governor’.

Seated comfortably I deliberately focus for perhaps 5, 10 or 20 minutes on a simple mantra – “I AM” being one I use often, “O Lord our Governor” being another – and I ‘let go’ of the thoughts and feelings clamouring for attention. Simple breathing in and breathing out comes to have the effect of a governor. Tick … tock … tick … tock. It’s important to decide on 5, 10 or 20 minutes beforehand and then stick to it. And thus calmed and clear-headed, after the allotted time for the meditation, I set about focusing on whatever it is I’m really supposed to be giving attention to. “Repeat as necessary”. (At least daily in my case!).

O Lord our Governor. The Psalms have helped millions of people to meditate, to keep their feet on the ground, to stay focused – positively and usefully ‘governed’ – for centuries. Recommended!

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