Betsy went to the Bach Vespers at Redeemer this evening. She enjoyed it, and when she came home we talked and sipped tea. Later, as she and the cats slept, I read more of Kathleen Norris' recent book, Acedia and Me. It's a very grown up book that traces many decades worth of accumulated spiritual wisdom. It's the sort of book that goes to some pretty dark places, including her husband's history with depression and suicide attempts.
Reading her talk about the necessity of prayer inspired me to dust off my old pocket-sized (American) Book of Common Prayer. It was given to me by my parents when I was confirmed. I have prayed with it often throughout my life, but less since I moved to Canada and started saying the Office from the BAS or the Holy Cross Breviary. When I was a kid I would say Compline every night. So this prayer book is well-worn. But in recent years I've been doing most of my prayers "at the office" so to speak. That is, I've been praying at church. I know this is probably a mistake, one should allow prayer to infuse all life, but besides grace at meals and extemporaneous prayers in the shower or when the thought of someone in need of prayers strikes me, I haven't been indulging in something as well developed or rich as the little Compline Office in the '79 BCP. Picking up tonight just felt right, somehow, as a response to both Kathleen Norris and everything else.
Perhaps this is the way Lent is going to come at me this year--quiet moments sipping tea with my wife or reading a poet talk about her spiritual journey through life, marriage, and vocation. And then the prayers and now the blogging. I'm sipping warm milk and trying not to let my mind race ahead to all the things I want to get done on my day off!
It seems lately I've been having the the same conversation over and over with different people--a talk about surface versus depth. If I let my attention rest on the surface of the pond--worrying about who is in church and who isn't or how the roof is going to get fixed and why didn't more people come to Ash Wednesday--I'm going to be jostled by every little ripple and possible overwhelmed by every wave. But underneath that is something still and deep and dark and full of all the rich, squirmy life that we need. You catch fishes by letting down nets, I suppose.
Those crafty desert fathers knew this lesson well. I'm so young as a Christian I find the challenges of this life daunting to say the least. I can't imagine what I would do if I didn't have people like Bede and Kathleen Norris and the Desert Fathers and Eugene Peterson and the rest of the struggling saints!
Sigh. A night for prayer.