Review: Reflections on Faith

Inspired by COVID and Inspired by Seniors By Phil Ridden, Edwest Publishing, 2020

I recently read two of the volumes from Dr Phil Ridden’s ‘Reflections on Faith’ series: Inspired by Covid and Inspired by Seniors. Phil is a retired Head Teacher and now works as a consultant and writer, based in Joondalup, Perth WA.

Phil writes that ‘if we seek God, we will see Him revealed in the people and events in our lives,’ and the purpose of these books is to support and stimulate spiritual reflection and meditation through everyday experiences.

In the Inspired by COVID volume, I found ‘Restrictions’ resonated with me in particular.

But there are other things that restrict our lives, Father:

A focus on ourselves,

our own needs and desires,

our obsessions and passions;

the absence of you.

As suggested by the author, it inspired me to write my own reflections on these strange times amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. I found Phil’s style of writing, as if in dialogue with God, was helpful. It reminded me somewhat of writing by British actor David Kossoff in the 1970’s and early 80’s, and his books such as You have a minute, Lord? with their easy, informal relationship with God.

Indeed, as Kossoff called his book ‘a sort of prayer book,’ so too these volumes by Phil Ridden could provide the basis for prayers, both private and public.

In the volume Inspired by Seniors, the meditation ‘Appearance,’ reminded me so much of recent conversations with my elderly mother and friends in my congregation.

I’m shocked at my appearance, Father.

My face has changed.

The experience of ageing can be both confronting and rewarding, of course, and this little book could provide stimulus for some very rich discussion within faith communities. Again, using the meditations as prayers in services or smaller group meetings would also be helpful.

At the end of each meditation, there is a Bible verse relevant to the theme. In the ‘Seniors’ volume, the reflection on Grief is poignant and I could imagine sharing it with friends who are anticipating bereavement.

That’s how life would be for me, Father,

if I lost you.

I would weep for myself,

and struggle to make a life without you.

Phil Ridden ends the reflection with a quotation from Hebrews: “Live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t he promised you, ‘I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV).

Sue Thompson

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