Friday, September 7, 2012

My Choir Stall

The bell clangs again, it's time for midafternoon prayer.  Once more, residents of the monastery gather in the choir stalls to sing His praise.

Again the swish of habits, the sliding of soft soles across floors, the quiet rustle of Breviaries being opened and pages being turned.  Sisters move to their places without hesitation; there is no wondering where any one goes today, for it's always the same.  Once choir stalls*  are assigned, they are easily remembered.  After all, a nun prays in the same one numerous times a day, seven days a week.

The swell of the organ, a blending of voices, the singing of praise.  Outside, potatoes for dinner may be half dug from the garden, but Sister Gardener left them behind at the summons of the bell.  Perhaps there's a prospect of rain this afternoon, and Sister Gardener might have disliked dropping her shovel to come indoors for this brief Office.  She may be distracted, listening for a rumble of thunder; but here she is, and here she sings.

My life in the world is not like this.  I say again:  my life in the world is not supposed to be like this.  I might hope for a particular time today for prayer, but I don't drop a pan or the baby to rush away to it. 

There is something I can do, however.  I can bring the prayer to me.  My "choir stall" is both permanent and portable.  My designated prayer place is the choir stall of my heart.  So:  while boiling water, shuffling files in an office, diapering the baby, I can praise God.

With a simple three word aspiration, I can praise Him.  I can do so silently (the recommended prayer-style in the workplace!); while in the solitude of my home or car - and especially while rocking a baby - I might even want to sing a hymn.

Wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, I have a choir stall in my heart. 

"Let my soul live to praise You."  (Psalm 119:175) 

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth."  (Psalm 34:2)
* a choir stall is a chair in the chapel, where a nun or monk prays

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