Boston Public Garden, 2013
Prayer walks can happen anywhere, not just in out in the country or by the sea. My walk yesterday took me from Park Street on the Boston Common to where the marathoners turn from Hereford onto Boylston Street and the finish line. The array of prayers were all along my route; from praise and thanksgiving from the tulips and swan boats, to confession, forgiveness and intercessory at the living chapel on Copley Square and the spot of devastation in front of the Forum restaurant on Boylston. The tulips in front of Old South Church, where I entered to pray, offered it all.
Public Garden taken in 2011
I took a very leisurely day yesterday, a Sabbath, one might say. It was good to be quiet after my busy week. Today I'm venturing into Boston to wander about, and go to the Finish Line. Just want to be there and I love to wander about Beacon Hill and the Public Garden. Will stop at my favorite sushi place on the corner of Newbury and Commonwealth. It will be a good day.
I’m just settling down after a week of intense socializing. Nothing out of the ordinary; well not exactly, although three days with my sisters was anything but usual. We had great fun and are planning another ‘Sisters’ Trip’ in the fall.
My point, however, is that social life detracts from prayer. Not just because there is less time for it, which is certainly true, but because socializing, by its very nature, encourages critique and judgment. That’s what conversation is, whether I give my opinion or listen to someone else’s.
I’m in a quandary. How to be an interesting, social being and a prayer person. Are the two compatible? I’m not convinced they are because I’m pretty certain that the very nature of intercessory offers no place for judgments and opinions. This makes me rather sad because I doubt that there is a middle ground, which is what I’d like. I want to have it both ways but my heart of hearts tells me I can’t.
Back at the airport waiting for my flight home. A wonderful time with my sisters. We were busy. No time for prayer time other than when we were on the fly, as the expression goes. As I sit here, in solitude and personal silence, reflecting on all the sightseeing and conversations, I am aware that more and more that I see life through a God lens. It’s a different place to be.
Airports and air travel are excellent places and times for prayer. In fact, I’d venture to say that there is more prayer going on in airports and on airplanes than in churches. Everyone prays, even the people who don’t believe in God or in prayer. It just happens. That deep place that atheists and agnostics don’t acknowledge just takes over. God is deeper than the mind can know or imagine. So in spite of the intense and often stressful energy inherent in air travel, it is as safe a place as any for prayer.
I aware that catastrophic news events can detract from my prayer life. On one level I’m praying all the time, but on another I am distracted from my usual prayer and meditation routine. Maybe I need to remember that Christianity is a seasonal faith with the yearly church calendar of Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, and Ordinary Time, Our lives, and surely our prayer lives, reflect this in an arbitrary and seeming random fashion—anticipation, birth, suffering, little deaths, resurrections, and all those time when nothing much seems to be happening.
Last week I discovered how easy it is for me to let go of my usual prayer practice. As I forgive myself (once again), I want to recommit (once again) to the stability that the monastic tradition that passed on through the centuries. We are told to stay in our cell, for it is there that we will come to know all that we need to know. The Rule of St. Benedict tells us, “Listen carefully with the ear of your heart.” That calls for attention to the seasons of my faith.
There is an enormous amount of energy here in Boston, in Massachusetts, in New England--energy and pride. Everyone is the world has heard all the versions of Boston Strong, which the President reiterated it as well. But we in Boston don’t hold a monopoly on this--it’s all to give away. Love has no limit; it doesn’t run out or get used up.
My hope that this message of love’s generosity will be heard throughout the world and throughout all religions. This isn’t about competition but about sharing the possibility of God’s kingdom on earth. Strangely, the incident in Boston last Monday may just get us a tad closer.
Starting my Patriots' Day walk.
What follows is today’s post on my acottagebythesea.net blog. I want to add a little about prayer. I think its essential that we pray for this entire situation. Just imagine what might be possible if everyone, especially in the Boston area, but also in the rest of the country and throughout the world, stopped and prayed for peace. Our prayer can make a difference!!
So I am going out now for a prayer walk, and I’m going to pray for the suspect and his family as well as everyone else.
Today is the official Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts. It is a little after 8 and although I live forty minutes from Boston, I feel simultaneously invaded and personally safe. To see Kenmore Square vacant, to picture parts of Watertown that I know, to observe the police standing with hands behind their backs waiting for instructions…. Well, I could go on and on but no need because very likely you, whoever and wherever you are, are probably watching the same scenes.
At the moment I have left the TV room and come to the AR (Angel Room) to write and pray. It doesn’t feel healthy to stay glued to the TV, although a part of me wants to do just that. Last night, I tore my mind away from the news and attended an ecumenical service sponsored by the Sudbury Clergy Association at St. John’s Luther Church in town. It was a quiet, simple service, offering a comforting combination of solitude and community.
Stepping away from ‘breaking news’ makes it easier for me to concentrate on the messages that President Obama, Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino and leaders of faith offered yesterday at the Service of Healing—to be present to the moment and to move forward.
Right now I need to get away from police sirens and TV chatter so I’m going to take a walk, grateful that I can step outside of my house.
What do I pray? What do I say to God? What do I ask God? When I heard the news yesterday I didn’t respond to any of these questions, at least not right away. I’d like to think that I was numb, but the truth is that I was swept up into my life, MY life. Maybe another way of saying this is that I was totally in my head—how does this effect me and my friends?—that kind of head stuff. And because I was in my head, I clicked on Face Book.
But then things shifted. My pastor had posted that our church sanctuary was open and would be for the evening in case anyone wanted to come by. I turned off the TV (my head), walked up to church and slid into a pew. After some silence, Pastor Tom came and sat next to me and we prayed together, back and forth, talking with God. It was a Holy moment. Thanks, Tom.
Quiet corner for prayer, Iona Abbey
The other day I received an email from a reader of this blog asking for prayers for her nephew who has had a reoccurrence of cancer. I don’t know who this person is, if that means knowing where she lives and what she does, but I do know that God has tapped her as a prayer person who is reaching out to other prayer people.
I continue to be touched by this request because it is an affirmation that God is working in wonderful and mysterious ways through aprayerdiary. Although my intention is to reach out to others interested in prayer I am discovering that in doing so, people are extending their hearts and souls to me. This is giving and receiving at its most sacred.
This has prompted me to provide my email.