Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Bell and an Open Vein

One facet of monastic life that looks greener on the other side of the fence (to me) is the call to prayer.  The bell rings, it's prayer time, and there's no putting it off.  No opening a newspaper, no checking the morning news, no doing 'just this one thing' before settling down to pray.

I don't know about you, but if I do just one thing before giving God a few minutes, all too often one thing turns into ten, and before I know it, 'things' have crowded out prayer altogether.  Again.

Of course, there are important reasons why some of us need to squeeze prayer into a 'To-Go-Box' from the minute we get out of bed.  Babies need feeding, we're late for work, kids need to be gotten off to school... but these are not the things that take up my personal time, not anymore.  Even when I have a busy day ahead, I can usually grab at least a few minutes to NOT turn on morning news and NOT check e-mail and to instead give that little chunk of time to God.  But do I?  

I will just say this:  it's a struggle.

Sometimes I long for the discipline of a bell.  I long for the accountability of those who will notice if I'm not in my choir stall.  Oh, I know my mind might wander if I were in fact standing there, breviary open before me and my mind still half asleep.  But at least I'd BE there.  I would be praising God, and giving Him a chance to whisper...  something... to my sleepy heart.

I often compare the first prayer of morning to a time when I received an i.v.  During preparation for the birth of my second child, I was given an i.v. of saline.  Asking why this was necessary, I was told that it was in case I needed medication administered quickly at any time during the birth.  The doctor wanted to have an open vein, ready to receive help on a moment's notice.

Years later, the memory of that came back to me as I pondered the grace of morning prayer.  If I pray, even briefly, early in the morning, I am in effect opening the vein.  Once I've begun conversation with God, prayers on-the-go are somehow easier throughout the day.  I believe inspirations from God are more easily 'heard' as well.

Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.  

"Live on in Me, as I do in you.  No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine can you bear fruit apart from Me.  I am the Vine, you are the branches.  He who lives in me, and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from Me you can do nothing."  (John 15:4-5) 

Text not in quotes


(this is a slightly edited re-post from our archives) 

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