Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A View From My Choir Stall

From the monastery tower, a bell rings.  There is a familiar swish of habits, the sliding of soft soles across floors, a quiet rustle of Breviaries opening and pages being turned.  Sisters move to their places without hesitation.  No one wonders where to go today, for once choir stalls have been assigned, they are easily remembered.  A nun prays in the same one numerous times a day, seven days a week.

Looking over photos of choir stalls the last few days, I've been struck by how different they are from one to another.  Some are carved and ornate.  Some are simple and bare.  And a few look decidedly uncomfortable! 

Choir stalls have normally been built to fit the purpose, the spaces, and even the times in which they were designed.  Yet one thing remains the same, always.  These are places made for praying.  These are locations where a soul comes to meet with God.

I've been thinking that, in some ways, the externals of our individual lives resemble choir stalls.  Having been made for communication with God, we do that communicating within the surroundings in which we find ourselves at any given time.  Much about these surroundings is assigned to us (our families, our health). 

Our surroundings change as years go by.  Just as those in a monastery have different stalls assigned to them from time to time (in some monasteries this change occurs yearly), we find the circumstances in which we live shifting.  In some seasons of our lives, we are robust, active, healthy.  In others, we may be decidedly uncomfortable.  Some days we come to prayer cradled in spiritual consolation.  On others, our prayer feels stark and dusty and dry.

Fortunately, lives of prayer are entirely portable.  When our "choir stall assignments" shift, our prayer can be molded to fit into the changing circumstances.  We can pray in the silence of a Church, and we can pray while we're diapering a newborn.  We can be prayerful single persons, wives, dads, grandparents.

Our surroundings correspond to the life-demands and even to the times in which we find ourselves.  Yet one thing remains the same, always.

We were created for communion with God. Just like choir stalls, we have been made for praying.

Whatever our circumstances at any given time, we can be seated in a place of prayer.   

Some of our other reflections on The Choir Stall (click on lines to view):

A Portable Choir Stall

It's a Start

What Gifts did I Miss Today? 

A Litany of Attentions

Opportunity Rings

To look into our interior choir stalls, click this line


  1. The photos, the metaphors....Nancy, you rock! I just love your writing and the way it makes me think.!

  2. Oh this is so good, Nancy! I love your insight about our "assignments"...mine has changed quite a bit this past year and you have given me comfort and encouragement by what you've written here!
    "Just like choir stalls, we have been made for praying."
    So simple really....! xx


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