Sunday, March 11, 2012

Never pray in a room without windows -- The Talmud

I am not preaching today.  I want to share with you that our Vestry this Lent  has undertaken a daily practice of prayer, led by our Vestry co-chaplains Janice Dean and Gwynn Crichton.

To make this simple, they are sending us a daily meditation from The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer, a book by Joan Chittister (and we have permission to do this). Each morning comes a wonderful reflection along with a few prayers.

This reflection came the other day, and it struck many chords with me, beginning with the mention of windows. I begin my mornings in quiet prayer and reflection in a corner of our house with a big window. I like to begin my prayers by looking out the window as the sun dances on the tree tops.

I leave this with you today from Joan Chittister...

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Never pray in a room without windows.
— The Talmud

The rabbis are clear: Prayer is not meant to make us into a world unto ourselves. We do not pray in order to escape the world around us. We pray with one eye on the world so that we can come to understand what is really being asked of us here and now, at times like this, as co-creators of the universe.

When God put humankind into a garden called earth, it was, Scripture is clear, to steward it to fullness of life. We were intended to keep the earth in good condition, to use it and develop it, to do our part in bringing every aspect of creation to fulfillment.

What God did not complete, we are meant to finish. God gave us the plants and intends us to garden and harvest them for the good of the entire world. God gave us the sun and intends us to use its energies in ways that maintain not destroy life. God gave us all the raw materials of life—physical, psychological and mental—and expects us to bring to full growth what was created in embryo.

We must learn to pray with more than ourselves in mind.

We do not pray for our own needs alone. We pray to become holy agents of the God who made us to care for the earth and all its peoples.

We are each workers in the garden of life.

Our most contemplative people — Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Catherine of Siena, Ignatius of Loyola, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day — are those who most actively sought the coming of the reign of God on earth. We pray to become like them.

To be assured that we are living an authentic prayer life we must forever and always examine its fruits in us. Are we really more concerned about others because we have come closer to God who loves them? Or have we turned prayer into a refuge from what being fully human demands of us?

Prayer is meant to bring us to see the world as God sees the world. It is meant to expand our vision, not trap us in the world that is only ourselves.

Commitment to the needs of the world is a sign of the presence of God in us.

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