Friday, March 20, 2020

The Rhythm of the Days

Well, words are certainly hard to find these days. We have only just begun this new time of indefinites and uncertainties.

And, like the rest of you, anxiety is hard to control right now.

Although the psalms can be hard to pray right now, as we prayed psalm 79 this morning...

Throughout Jerusalem
they have poured out blood like water.
No one is left to bury the dead.
How long will this endure?
May your compassion enfold us;
we are in the depths of distress.
We, your people, the flock of your pasture,
will give you thanks forever.

...they still are my greatest comfort. The routine of the Liturgy of the Hours is comfort.

I helped to sort through some books yesterday and was reminded of Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB's book, Seven Sacred Pauses. In it, she offers reflections and antiphons to pray the seven traditional prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. Here are a few from the book...

The Night Watch (Midnight through Dawn)
"And I said to the one who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely in the Unknown.' And he replied, 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'" (Minnie Haskins)

The darker the night, the lovelier the dawn she carries in her womb. (Dom Helder Camara)

They also serve who only stand and wait. (John Milton)

For God alone my soul waits in silence. (Psalm 62:1)

The Awakening Hour (Dawn)
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love;
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)

Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door. (Emily Dickinson)

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn. (Henry David Thoreau)

Bathed in morning light, pray that the lantern of your life move gently this day into all those places where light is needed. (Macrina Wiederkehr)

The Blessing Hour (Midmorning)
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes. (Etty Hillesum)

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know--the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. (Albert Schweitzer)

The Hour of Illumination (Midday)
Only in embracing all can we become the arms of God. (Coleman Barks)

Commit your way to the Holy One. Trust and God will act. Integrity will rise like the sun, bright as the noonday will be your healing. (Psalm 37:5-6, paraphrased)

To become [human] means to have no support and no power, save the enthusiasm and commitment of one's own heart. (Johannes Metz)

The Wisdom Hour (Midafternoon)
Sustain me as you have promised that I may live; disappoint me not in my hope. (Psalm 119:116--NAB)

Death belongs to life just as night belongs to day, as darkness belongs to light, as shadows belong to substance...death belongs to life. (Rabbi Alvin Fine)

Who knows what is beyond the known? And if you think that any day the secret of light might come, would you now keep the house of your mind ready? Would you now cleanse your study of all that is cheap, or trivial? (Mary Oliver)

The Twilight Hour (Evening)
O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. (Psalm 43:3)

O [God], support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, [God], in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last; through Jesus Christ. (John Henry Newman)

A soul flare is what happens when someone shines [his or her] light no matter what it is. In a song, a smile, or a well-made soup; they send out a flare of light that inspires others to shine their own. Soul flares make this world better. (Annie O'Shaughnessy)

The Great Silence (Night)
I yearn to be held in the great hands of your heart--oh let them take me now. Into them I place these fragments, my life, and you, God--spend them however you want. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

The more faithfully you listen to the voice within your, the better you hear what is sounding outside of you. (Dag Hammarskjold)

O Most High, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

As we continue to walk through these days, marking our hours with whatever sacred strength we can find, let us pray for one another.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

What's It Like in a Monastery During These Days of COVID-19?

As many of us have been spending more time on the phone, or FaceTime, or Zoom, or whatever way we connect with technology, people have been ...