Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Card at the End of March: How One Prayer Keeps on Giving

Every year, at the end of March, one of these envelopes arrives in the mailbox at the end of the lane. 

It's from Wycliffe College, where I did my Master of Theological Studies, and I know exactly what's inside. This one piece of mail has had a large influence in my journey toward more intentional prayer. 

When I read it, I remember I am part of something bigger. When I read it, I know I am thought of with intention. When I read it, I feel as if a great circle of prayer has opened up and drawn me inside. 

I know what will happen, at some point in April, in the little brick chapel with the stained glass saints, at the end of the long hall lined with alumnae faces. 

A real live person will say my name in prayer, out loud, and the sound will rise up past those wooden rafters and make its way to heaven. 

I know because I've been there, and I've heard the prayers. It's all part of the Wycliffe Cycle of Prayer. A long time ago, the communal wisdom decided it would be a good idea to write down the names of all of the living Wycliffe alumnae, and pray for each person once a year as part of the daily offices. There's even a little booklet made up each year, sent to all the alumnae, with all these names divided up by date. It's not rocket science, nor is it empty ritual. It's an audible, tangible, intentional working out of Paul's admonition to "Devote yourselves to prayer" (Colossians 4:12). 

Somebody thought of me, and didn't want to forget, so they wrote my name down. They prayed for me by name. And they sent me this card. 

I don't know about anyone else, but I can be forgetful. I can have good intentions to pray for a lot of people, and a lot of things, but unless these intentions are formed into a plan, they too easily get lost along the way or elbowed out by the urgent. 

It's been a growing desire, these past years, to put more devotion into my prayer. And whenever I get one of these in the mail, I am reminded that a little planning can go a long way. 

This April, I kept it up on the fridge all month. And I started thinking what it would look like to create my own cycle of prayer, for me, and our family. Something simple. A starting point. A place to hang those dear names, those concerns and burdens, those stirrings of the Spirit, those passions and pursuits. A way to remember, and a way to keep me going in the habit of prayer. I've been experimenting with one or two ideas, and maybe I'll share them in posts to come. 

So, thanks Wycliffe! Your prayer keeps on giving. 


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

June ramblings

I've got seeds in my pocket and a sonata on my fingertips. It is a June evening, blushing with the colours of the sun up past its bedtime. These night hours seem stolen from some other world, some other time. There is the only the wind in the trees, and its noise does not demand, though we all bow to its power. There is no past, only these seeds that I place in the soil, space, cover up, then step to the next row. The garden gives, long before its fruits are ripe. Solitude. Solidarity with the earth and the mother spider that scuttles her egg nest to safer ground. Here is time, true and ticking, tuned to the turn of the earth and tilt of sun. Before the dark settles I put the tools in the shed and scrub the black dirt from my knuckles. Now limbered up, fingers fall easily on the smooth ivory keys, remembering patterns learned a decade and a half ago. The window is open to the night air, and I linger with the diminuendo, feeling the last vibrations sink away into the walls and floor of this old house. Then there is quiet. The quiet of children sleeping, and the breeze blowing through the rooms, and the frogs across the valley. There is a peace that comes when all the portals to the racing, rabid world are closed, and a thought can wander and turn without the clamoring opinions of a never-sleeping network. The house fills with the glow of lamps, but there is yet indigo through the windowpanes. Soon the night will leave us with only mirrors, and then what will we see gazing back at us? I have danced with June, let it in and taken its bait - and there, it smiles with me.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Time to Sow

When life looms large and my efforts are not enough, you whisper it quiet:

Make yourself small.
Make yourself as a seed, curled in the dark earth, invisible but for the Father’s eye.
Make yourself sown, hurled by another’s hand and abandoned to the death of this dry husk.
Make yourself soft, able to receive the water of your germination.

When life looms large, make yourself small.

From this hiddenness, something radicle emerges.

From this burial, life will swell and root, a life that is stronger than the push of the world, as strong in this small place as any of the forces of nature. Here is the secret of the kingdom of heaven, the mystery of the cross, and the origin of being.

Do you feel it? Futility? Emptiness? The rattle of lifeless limbs? Then lean in close, leave all this striving, place yourself there between finger and thumb.

You whisper:

It is time to sow.


Thursday, 4 June 2015

afternoon prayer :: 1

The prayer of the leaky cistern

By this time, O Lord, my leaks are showing and patches coming unglued. I bring my battered cistern, and lay it down beside your spring. Here is a source that never runs dry, never leaks out, never needs patching. Here is a source everlasting, everflowing, everquenching. Here is life, not to bucket away, but to draw near and drink deep. Here, your mercies are new again. Here, I am renewed.



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

morning prayer :: 2

O Lord of open ears,

When I wake up with no voice of my own, I turn to the voices that you breathed into long ago.
I enter into their prayers and join my heart with theirs, till their words become my strength, my song, my own, and I am carried into your presence.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit 
lead me on level ground." 
(Psalm 143:8-10)


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