Friday, December 17, 2010

Like a forest we never knew.

Snow melting off a branch in Sequoia.
Today, as the rain fell, it reminded me of my days on sabbatical in the Northwest. As it would rain for days, I would learn to enjoy its effect on nature. I learned to be still and slow down. Thanks to my friend Kristen, I also got into the rhythm of beginning and ending each day with The Daily Office. This is not to be confused with watching The Office daily. It's also known as Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Hours. 

The Divine Hours is a collection of daily readings and prayers said at certain times of the day.  

While I practiced the discipline, at times, it felt stiff and disconnected to me. I had the chance to ask a nun about this and I loved how she explained it. 

"Prayer is like when an old couple, having breakfast together, prepares the tea, sets out the plates, get the scones (apparently they are a British couple) and sets the table. 

The intimacy is sitting at the table, holding hands, looking into each other's eyes... the 'setting up' is the formality that leads to the intimacy. Sometimes we don't have the words and prayers help lead us." (Sr. Laura, St. Placid Priory, Washington) 

Indeed, as the months wore on, I came to really enjoy these moments of beginning and ending my day. Times of 'setting up' and times of deep being. 

One of my favorite readings (a poem for the evening) written by what sounds like a woman, but is really a man. It's the middle name that caught me off guard. It was likely written in the early 1900's. 

You are the future, 
the red sky before sunrise
over the fields of time.

You are the cock's crow when night is done,
you are the dew and the bells of matins,
maiden, stranger, mother, death.

You create yourself in ever-changing shapes
that rise from the stuff of our days~ 
unsung, unmourned, undescribed,
like a forest we never knew.

You are the deep innerness of all things, 
the last word that can never be spoken.
To each of us you reveal yourself differently:
to the ship as a coastline, to the shore as a ship. 

I love the imagery. One day I'd love to create an art piece, a painting maybe, to go along with this poem.

And tonight, as I prepare to head back to Las Vegas with my family. As I prepare to say goodbye to 2010. As I consider what the next year will hold, I close my day with this prayer:

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give Your angels and saints charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ. Rest your weary ones. Bless your dying ones. Soothe your suffering ones. Shield your joyous ones, and all for your love's sake. 


Teri said...

The "British couple" bit and the middle name that caught you off guard made me smile. Your whole post is beautiful. I love the line you titled the post with. Kevin prays the Hours, and I've never been able to navigate the book. Wanna throw a Liturgy of the Hours lesson in with our camera session?

Las Vegas welcomes you. Considering this morning's weather, it will be with a rain we never knew.

RaeLynn Bachmeier said...

Layla, that was really beautiful. It was both humorous and soothing to read. I love what the nun said to you about prayer and I love the lines in the poem about how God shows himself to each of us differently. I've never heard of praying the Hours before, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for this blog. =)

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