For the first time in a long vocation of many years, I provided a “demonstration” during a sermon [entitled, “Silence: The First Gate–Practical Tools for a Spirituality that Keeps You Calm So You Can Carry On. ]
Those of you who attended the June 29th service remember that I walked out from the pulpit and down to the Lord’s Table where a vase of water was placed. I had a light clipped to the vase, shining from behind it and through the water. Then I took some dirt and poured it into the vase and stirred it with a large spoon whereupon the water was a very dark brown and the light behind it was blocked out. But within five minutes or so, one could see the light breaking through the debris and by the end of the sermon, the heavy elements had dropped to the bottom of the vase and the light was quite apparent.
I wanted to follow up that sermon about remaining still and prayerful in order to find a calm in the center of our lives with a few words about “the liturgy of hours.” That is a technical phrase that refers to the ancient discipline of praying at certain phases of the day. It is not necessary that you understand the history of that tradition or how it is practiced. It is sufficient for my purposes simply to connect what I taught you Sunday—breathing deeply, praying Lord Have Mercy, Christ Have Mercy on the inhale and exhale of your breath—with the phases of the day that were so apparent to ancient Christians.
You are familiar with the two major divisions of a day simply by being alive. You didn’t need to read a book about this. Day/Night. Morning and Evening prayer. Lauds and Vespers. Whatever you call it, we experience our time day in and out by this major division. The morning and day begins—we pray the Lord, Have Mercy and breathe deeply and peacefully for some moments. The day ends—we pray the Lord, Have Mercy and breathe deeply and peacefully for some moments. We begin the day by asking God to grant us peace and strength. We end the day by commending our energies and actions to God and asking for rest.
You can go a step further and pray noon, at the zenith of the sun and height of the day’s energies. There are other “prayer hours” but for now, try a week of breathing deeply and praying at morning, noon, evening. By doing so we mark time as holy. We consecrate our efforts to God. And we benefit by a contemplative life that shines light through us. A translucent life of prayer and contemplation may deepen your life and calm both body and soul. Here is a brief and pretty Lord Have Mercy by our Orthodox friends.
See you Sunday~