[these Kansas evenings]
The soul needs ritual and practice in order to grow and deepen. I'm learning this. Slowly, as common prayer becomes habit, the reflexes of my being are turning toward God like the muscles of my hands can now tamp espresso without conscious thought.
A few mornings ago was one that I thought might be a bad dream. Nothing horrific, just everything Not Working, one on top of the other. Frustration rising, suddenly part of the usual morning prayer (which I hadn't prayed that morning because oversleeping and hurrying) came to me:
O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you
as the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
And suddenly I was patient and restful. And could be present with customers. I hadn't consciously thought, "I should pray." It was just there. Part of the fabric, woven into other days before this one. And I don't know about you, but my prayers (if I think of praying) when I'm frustrated consist mostly of my talking about how frustrated I am, rather than bringing myself to God in praise. I need the well-worn prayer paths of saints before me sometimes. A lot of the time, actually.
I've always yearned for a more constant abiding in God, and we've discovered the strength of the practices, ancient creeds, daily rhythms, and prayers of the early church. I know, it sounds goofy to those of us, most of the American church, who grew up thinking those are just Catholic things. But did you know the church calendar was formed, prayers written, and creeds recited hundreds of years before Scripture was canonized? I didn't. And now, discovering that my soul is indeed formed by orienting, in actual practice, my day around the reality of the presence of God, I wonder how we've lost this rich heritage.
And hey, "Common Prayer" (compiled in part by Shane Claiborne), even has an app.
And now I'll go to bed with these beautiful words in my mind:
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the evening light,
we sing your praises, O God:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
your glory fills the whole world.