It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6
And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." Mark 6
After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Matthew 14
Since enjoying a wonderful time away on Cape Breton Island, hiking and praying and visiting friends and family, I been meaning to write to you about the practice of prayer.
Seven Sacred Pauses is an incredible resource for people of prayer and those wanting to know more about a daily practice of faith. I purchased the book a few years ago because the author, Macrina Wiederkehr, contributed to another book I happened to be enjoying. Her writing literally stopped me in my tracks. She writes, “If you want to be a dancer, a singer, a figure skater, you practice. If you want to make the team in any area of sports, you practice. Just imagine many hours of practice given over to those who make it to the Olympics. Why should the spiritual life be any different?” Why should it indeed. Remember the words of the French Philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
So, how do we learn to BE in the midst of so much DOING? Practice, practice, practice. We put into practice loving and listening and forgiving and being compassionate. We train our breath and follow the pathway of peace which embraces our minds, bodies and spirits.
Macrina offers the following piece entitled, O Pilgrim of the Hours
opens on an new day.
You are invited
to join the great opening.
Open your ears.
Open your heart.
Open your eyes
to the sacred path
you travel every day,
the path of the hours.
Great the hours
with joyful awareness.
Greet the hours
with faithful presence..
Great the hours
with a reverential bow.
Greet the hours
with a sacred pause.
Reverence each hour
as a small stepping stone
on your pilgrimage
through the day.
Receive the gift
of seven sacred pauses.
Practice waking up
seven times a day.
Here are the seven pauses for you to reflect on in order to be blessed by the grace each hour, each moment holds:
The Night Watch, The Awakening Hour, The Blessing Hour, The Hour of Illumination, The Wisdom Hour, The Twilight Hour, and The Great Silence.
Thinking about each day through the lens of these seven sacred pauses was and remains a true blessing. I find myself pausing more often and finding energy I didn’t believe possible for seasons and times of challenge. I have smiled more and even shed a few tears when needed through the gift of sacred pauses with the Psalms. I have been reminded time and time again of the movement of God’s Spirit by paying attention to the countless moments of awe.
In a way, what it has meant for my life of prayer is simple. I have found a way to honour wee “Sabbath” moments of prayerful connection. It’s a way to balance busy days and nights with a prayerful stance, following the Way of Jesus and when my steps falter, as they often do, I am reminded that I am loved and need not get lost in fear or despair. I return to that sacred gift. I come back to God for a wee moment of prayer. And, when words don’t come, I have learned to listen.
I encourage you to look for daily opportunities with scripture, poetry, personal stories, neighbours/friends and family, nature and the gift of simple breath prayers to enrich your relationship with God.
Here are some examples. For your practice!
A Morning Offering, John O’Donohue
I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
(From To Bless the Space Between Us)
Psalm 33 for a Midday Pause
Night Prayer - A New Zealand Prayer Book
Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.
The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen.