Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Want To PrayThe Hours? Try Outlook!

Dear Urban Abbey, Loretta Goodwin joined us this passed weekend for our annual retreat and blessed us by incorporating beautiful poetry into the morning prayer service she led. We were fascinated by her explanation of her modern means for keeping the hours and we asked her to share her experience with you. Given the poetry she read we highly recommend the book Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day. We can all benefit from a rhythmic practice of keeping the hours.  Much thanks to Loretta for enhancing our understanding of how we can keep the hours.--

I attended the Urban Abbey retreat at Shrine Mont this past weekend, and it was wonderful to be welcomed as a guest into this community. The program for the weekend focused on watching a BBC production called "The Monastery"- available on YouTube, and well worth the watching, and follow-up discussion.  The program invited us to think about what relevance the Benedictine Rules of living have for today's world, and as we watched 5 ordinary men enter and live with a community of monks at Worth Abbey in England for 40 days and 40 nights, our thinking was challenged regarding what it meant to live in community, and how the rules promoted spiritual development and growth.  

During one of the follow-up discussions we engaged in, as we tackled the tough questions of how it was possible to incorporate the Rule into our daily lives, I shared what I try and do on a daily basis.  It's not about following all the Rules, and it's not always fool-proof, but it is a start towards pausing throughout the day, and reminding myself of God's presence.  Based on the recommendation of a friend, a while ago I read Macrina Wiederkehr's book, Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day.  Rather than focus on the historical text of the hours, this book provides one with poetic reflection material on the spirit of the hours.  Faced with many options to read at the seven sacred pauses (Matins, Morning Prayer, Third Hour of the Day, Sixth Hour, Ninth Hour, Evensong, Compline), I have chosen a few texts that have special meaning for me, that resonate deeply with something I have felt, or experienced.  I have then entered these texts into my Outlook calendar, at 7am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 7pm, and 9pm, which causes me to receive automatic alerts at specified times during the day (and let me be clear - I am focused on Morning Prayer through Compline!  Engaging in Matins? I'm not there yet).   

Thus I begin my day with a text from the awakening hour, "Set the clock of your heart for dawn's arrival. Taste the joy of being awake," followed by one of Macrina's sacred songs that reminds me to "breathe in the rays of dawn, raise high the chalice of your life."  I also love reading Mary Oliver's poem, The Summer Day, at the start of each day, and will soon explore acquiring another poem I just learned about while attending the Sunday morning service with St. Anne's at Shrine Mont, by John O'Donahue, called The Morning Blessings.  

As the day progresses, my calendar alerts me to the passing of the  hours, and provides the appropriate text. Admittedly, sometimes, due to work, I can't  take a few moments to silently contemplate and reflect, and listen for God's word, but the mere reminder serves to alert me to God's presence throughout the day.  I invite you to try it out!

Loretta Goodwin

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