Wednesday, September 23, 2015
My Life as a Choir Stall
Looking over photos of choir stalls, 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 are chairs for monastics (nuns or monks) to pray in. They are normally built to fit the purpose, the space, and even the time in which they're 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.
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, the jobs we must do, 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 we are robust, active, healthy. In others, we may feel decidedly uncomfortable. On 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 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 students, wives, dads, engineers, retirees, nurses, grandparents.
Our surroundings correspond to the life-demands and times in which we find ourselves. Things around us bend and change, 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, our hearts can be places of prayer.
Painting of woman and child: Édouard de Beaumont
Painting of man: Albert Anker