A few days ago as I walked up the hill to our monastery chapel for Morning Praise, the sky was so awesome I found myself not wanting to go to chapel for prayer. I wanted to remain in my wonderful outdoor cathedral. When I arrived at the monastery door I looked up at the sky once more and said "OK, Lord, I'll leave this to go to Morning Prayer but it better be good!"
I arrived in chapel a little early which is not one of my common behaviors since I am prone to loitering, ambling, meandering and sauntering along the way, which I also find to be a form of prayer. I decided to open my daily prayer book from Liturgical Press, Give us This Day, (www.giveusthisday.org) and check out the daily scripture reading for Morning Prayer. I could hardly believe what I was reading. It was from Isaiah 60:19-21
“No longer shall the sun be your light by day, Nor shall the brightness of the moon give you light by night; Rather the Lord will be your light forever, your God will be your glory. No longer will your sun set, or your moon wane; For the Lord will be your light forever, and the days of your grieving will be over. …” The words fell into my soul like rain though I was not repentant of my earlier struggle. Each of these experiences was prayer. Everything in the whole wide world is the “back side of God.” (Exodus 33:18-23)
As I began to chant the psalms with my community I became aware that the sunrise was still with me. Each word, a sun beam:
From Psalm 84: Your temple is my joy, Lord of heaven’s might. I am eager for it, eager for the courts of God. My flesh, my flesh sings its joy to the living God. ...…God is our sun, our shield, the giver of honor and grace.
And from Psalm 32: You, my shelter, you save me from ruin; You encircle me with songs of freedom.
I will show you the way you should walk. As your teacher I watch out for you. Do not be a stubborn mule…
Well, I think I will stop on that one but it is true that the sunrise came into chapel with me and then all the saints in the stain glass windows started waking up and putting on their bright robes and haloes, raising their hands in praise, picking up their staffs and palm branches, their writing quills and lighted lamps, sacred books, crosses and chalices, (whatever the artist put in their hands) and I thought of the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and their faith; and I looked at the faces of my Sisters with whom I was praying and I thought, “It really is good to be here!”
What amazing gifts and guides we have to help us change our attitudes! Any place is a good place to be if you come with open hands, open ears, open hearts and with bright piercing eyes, ready to see and receive. I don’t always allow myself to be tamed so easily but on that particular morning: feast of St. Bruno, the Carthusian, I was so open to grace.