Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Kingdom Field Notes: Mother Junco's Secret

Little mother junco knows a secret. The tilt of her head outside the kitchen window tells me so. She knows the place where heaven and earth meet, somewhere in the branches of a great tree. There she will build her nest, and lay her treasures to rest.

She has found a seed. The one that falls into the earth and dies. And it will be her kingdom.

She has a dark eye for the small things, little mother junco.

And how she will sing on the day of new birth, when the pale blue egg breaks open like a morning sky to welcome the sun!

Until then, she laughs at the snow, her faith the evidence of things unseen, and her secret keeps her warm.


Monday, 30 March 2015

A great change

The sap is flowing! The geese are returning! The world is shifting and a great change is about to come.

Now the dead will be shown for what they are. In the winter, all the branches look the same. But spring reveals the hidden reality.

All those who abide in the vine have sap in their veins. 

They will swell with buds and stretch to the sun.
They will not break when the tempest comes, nor wither in the heat.
They will bleed sweet water should the pruning knife wound.
The life is in the blood, and they are rooted and established in the heart of the universe.

They will not fear the change. They will clap their hands and wave their palms when the monarch of spring arrives, and their green laurels will be his crown. Their fruit will be his triumph, and when the grapes are trod they will cast their boughs before him as the wine is poured out for all the earth to drink.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

evening prayer :: 1

From the Book of Common Prayer, "Evening Prayer To Be Used in Families"

For Freedom From Worry.

O LORD, who hast pity for all our weakness: Put away from us worry and every anxious fear, that, having ended the labours of the day as in thy sight, and committing our tasks, ourselves, and all we love into thy keeping, we may, now that night cometh, receive as from thee thy priceless gift of sleep; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 


Friday, 20 March 2015

morning prayer :: 1

God of warming spring, turn your face toward our open windows. We welcome your light and the brisk air of season’s turning. Melt the chill of winter’s drifts and the things that lie buried within. Shake us from slumber and wake us to life. Fill us with the joy of chickadees, the hope of sap rising, the flooding love of water rushing down and down. Whisper the vernal secrets of your kingdom come, and give us ears to hear.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A Pattern of Prayer: Finding a Groove

I'm trying to get into a groove here, with a rhythm, a pattern, a way to move through the day with prayer. 

{I am not a monk with hours of quiet contemplation, but a modern mom, held to the pace of a two and four year old and a hundred year old house in the country. I do not live by the chiming of a clock, though we have a flexible schedule that is the backbone of most days. Feeding the family, that is the reality around which the day revolves. And if I'm not careful, I can miss my own meal in all the preparation and serving and cleanup. I can miss my own meal. There is no end to the work, no bells to signal completion, no ticking off one box without adding three more, and it all can keep me running, running on hungry, and running down to empty.

I need to eat. Pause and break the bread of life, share this sweet communion. There is a time to wake, a time to work, a time to play, a time to rest. There is a time to eat.}

And so I imagine how I will translate the tradition of "hours" of prayer into my own moments of prayer, a movement of prayer, or rather of movement of self through the fabric of prayer.

This is the sketch in my head, rather like a line graph, with rise and fall and lots of scribbling, still in revision.

These are the moments I am learning to move into prayer:

1. Morning - A Gathering Prayer

"O lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun."*

Here is the gathering, the offering of the strands of my life, held out to be woven with God's own hands.
The reaffirmation to "Love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength."
To begin the day in the light of His countenance.
To begin the day with the bread of His Word.

Before work, this worship.
Before my plans, His purpose.
Before movement, this deep breath.
Before feeding others, this filling up.

I gather manna fresh for this day, and pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matt. 6:11)

2. Mid-morning - An Embracing Prayer

"Love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt. 22:39)

Here I sit with the ones God has given me to love, sit with our morning snack and children's Bible, eating together.
Now is the time to spread our arms wide and embrace the needs around us, and carry our burdens to the Lord.
We pray for our neighbour and for ways to love them.
We spread our prayers into the world that they may go ahead wherever God may lead us.
We pray together, for others.
Here is compassion and intercession, and the faith of children.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matt. 6:10)

3. Noon - A Rising Prayer

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Here at the height of the day, the height of the clock, I lift my eyes up, turn my thoughts toward heaven, and raise my thanksgiving.

Hands are busy, tummies are hungry, but my heart turns thankful.
I name the blessings, great and small, treasures of this very day.
In the middle of it all, there is always something to be thankful for.

This motion lifts the mundane into a living marvel and makes room for joy.

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised." (Psalm 113:3)

4. Mid-afternoon - A Centering (Abiding) Prayer

"No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine." (John 15:4)

Here, by chance, I catch my breath and a cup of coffee at the same time. The day is in full swing, but we have built time for rest into it, and rather than find ways to amuse myself, I try to find ways to abide in Him.

I stop. Remember. Rest my soul. Rejuvenate.
Calm the chaos and center into the deeper reality behind these fleeting hours.
I reach down, root myself.
Make a knot. 

"She is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever she does, she prospers." (Psalm 1:3)

I take root that I may bear fruit.

"Establish thou the work of our hands." (Psalm 90:17)

5. Supper Meal - A Celebratory Prayer

"One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts." (Psalm 145:4)

All together now, we give thanks.
We speak blessing.
(We practice table manners.)
We rejoice.
We recount.
We feast.

6.  Evening - A Prayer of Release

Now, night falls, and it is time to lay aside the day.
Release its worries, problems, and work.
Release my grip on the things I cannot control.
Release my spirit to rest in His presence.
I unravel the things that threaten to choke, examine my living of this day and confess my sins.

Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy.

I entrust my soul to His tender care and unceasing watch.
I entrust my body to the sleep He gives His beloved.

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid.
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." (Prov. 3:24)


I am a child learning to dance, learning to move in a new way. I am forming these often faltering steps - habits - that soon I hope will catch on to the rhythm and carry me along. More than that, I am reaching out in faith and finding a Father who is more than eager to move toward me.

* From Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Shane Clairborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. 


Sunday, 15 March 2015

A Habit of Prayer

As I work out what it means to become this person of prayer, I am drawn to holy people through the ages who marked their days and nights with regular “hours” of prayer. They trained desire into a discipline by putting on a habit of prayer.

A habit. It is what the nuns wear to mark themselves as those devoted to God. It is an outward sign of an inward state. And habits, the patterns of living we either fall into or form for ourselves, these too are outward forces which have the power to direct what flows within.

In my longing for a life of prayer, I need more than desire. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. It needs to be trained. It needs a path to follow. This river needs banks so my good intentions don’t disperse and dissipate to other ends. Habits create channels for the spirit to follow, without having the burden of decision, that initial inertia, to overcome each time. Habits can take affections and transform them into effective energy. A habit is not a burden, but a gift that grace makes into a blessing.

Perhaps, like my sisters, I can put on a habit of prayer at particular times of the day, a pattern that repeats itself with the sun’s rising and setting. Perhaps I can live by a different sort of clock, a different sort of time. Perhaps I can clothe myself with a second nature that, by force of habit, stays put no matter what the day brings.

It’s not the tyranny of ritual, but the freedom of rhythm. It’s the worship of God through and with time. I have been given a finite number of hours and moments, and perhaps by ordering them firstly through prayer, the rest will find their fitting place. Time management through prayer? I’m willing to give it a try.


Saturday, 7 March 2015

The heart of the universe

Another winter day and the world turns slowly toward spring, a sleeping beauty wakening to her long awaited lover. And morning by morning I wake to my own two grinning suns and the warmth that is their love.

And I can't help thinking, that at the heart of the universe, love is the most powerful reality there is.

Where does this come from?

We with the soul breath of life in our lungs, we long for it, grieve its loss, relish its nearness, suffer for its grasp, suffocate without it.
There is no substitute for love.

Where does this come from?

This world can be a confounded mess, and yet in these troubles and terrors there is one thing that breaks through the darkness, and every child knows this secret
- it is love.

Love overcomes and outlasts even death.
This, we with beating human hearts, know.
And if we know it not in experience, yet we long for it as a lost homeland.

Where does this come from?

Woven somehow into our nature,
marked somehow with a primordial kiss,
drawn by an invisible thread,
fingers tracing letters in the air. . .

God is Love.

And if it does not come from God, then from where?

Not from survival of the fittest, or the onward, merciless march of history.

But sacrifice of the fittest.
There evil stopped dead in its tracks,
where heaven and earth's history met in a blaze of glory.

Not letters in the air, or words in the sky of an abstract heaven,
but The Word
Made Flesh,
one Man

A love strong enough, pure enough, the original and best.
Outrageous, overwhelming, overcoming love.

And we saw this love and our hearts leapt within and the whole universe made sense in that instant we looked at the cross.

This is the shape of everything, right the way down.

Somehow the birds know it, in their joyful dive toward the earth,
and the river knows it, racing down and down to the freedom of the sea,
and the earth groans for what it has seen beneath the surface,
and the trees fling the late afternoon sun into patterns on the floor,
and my eyes, dazzled, might have seen a face in the play of light and shadow,
the image of the invisible burned into my mind's eye,
the shape of a man,
the shape of a cross,
the shape of love.

I blink, and the world goes on spinning,
and this reality spins inside me,
with its own gravity sending me delightfully off balance,
as only love can do.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...