establish a place
a few months ago Ann at Holy Experience wrote about building a house of prayer, a house where even the moan of the wood floors or the squeak door on its hinges could whisper a prayer. yes, i too wanted the noise of my life to somehow become prayer. and so i followed a few of Ann’s suggestions. i put The Divine Hours on hold at the library. i’ve prayed morning and evening prayer occasionally for years. but having all of the appointed readings and psalms in one place lends an ease and grace to the prayers. highly recommended.
i also made a place for a prayer. a place set apart. a place that might root me in the habits of prayer. here’s what i included:
- a plant–i knew i wanted something living, something green as we head into these dark days
- candles–again, light for our darkness
- icons of Mary–i needed someone who was also a mama
- hand-embroidered cloth–beauty from Bangladesh, a gift to celebrate the birth of our son
lest you think it’s all goodness and light here in St Johns, here’s a picture with a wider view.
yes, my place of prayer is just above the overdue library books and messy shoes. and that’s rather on purpose. prayer needs to happen in the middle of our lives, in the middle of our mess. there’s no place else, really. from psalm 23:
your goodness and your gracious love pursue me all my days.
your house, o Lord, shall be my home; your name my endless praise.
at Thanksgiving and every day I am thankful for your creative spirit and loving heart…love mama
AMEN! Reaching out to God happens in the middle of the messiness and mundane – especially when mothering little children. With the children I’ve been trying to go against my natural tendency to “discipline” and instead have been striving to follow a friend’s example – when the kids are short tempered, fighting, feeling sad, struggling somehow, she stops everything, and says, “let’s pray about it together”, and then they just say a quick prayer like “God, please grant us peace” or pray a Psalm.
I love your place of prayer. The icons of Mary are especially beautiful. It is amazing how perspective changes everything, isn’t it? Close up, you would never know that your prayer space is the top of a bookcase! You have inspired me to “make room” in my home for the sacred.
I’ve been thinking so much about prayer these days, too, and how to be disciplined about it. Spontaneous prayer is easy for me…all of my thoughts are a kind of ongoing conversation with God. But, formal prayer takes time, devotion, and effort. It means a bit of sacrifice at set intervals throughout the day. The divine office, the Angelus, the Rosary…What if I stopped trying to improve my life, and instead focused that energy on being faithful to God in prayer? Would prayer transform my life? I am sure of it! And, yet, if I really believe that, why don’t I do it?
Thank you for a thought provoking post.
I absolutely reveled in this post…
I pray the hours with you — right in the middle of the mess. You say it so well — is there anywhere else?
With much gratitude….
mama–thank you so!
Angela–i hear you about the messiness of life with children. it takes eyes of love and creativity to see something else. Ann’s list of short prayers from the Bible (linked to in this post) is a help here.
Susan–thank you so much for your honest sharing. it means so so much to read your words. i really do recommend the Divine Hours as a way of approaching more formal prayers. though i think there is such grace in that continual conversation that you have with God.
Ann–Tonia too is saying the Hours. it does my heart good to think of us all (the communion of saints) praying throughout the day.
I found reading Frederica Mathewes-Green’s books helpful in this area–The Illuminated Heart, The Jesus Prayer, and the one about icons (The Open Door?). The Orthodox seem to dedicate a corner in their house with an easatern wall to icons and a type of oil light to icons.
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