I know that it is Advent, but I need to start with Epiphany today. As I write this reflection it is December 12th, the ordination anniversary of our rector. In celebrating her priesthood, I was reflecting this morning on one of the first “new idea” gifts that Nancy brought to us; Epiphany Stars! Last year on Epiphany Sunday we sat in a circle in the parish hall during the forum hour, closed our eyes, and took a star from a bowl. Our star had a word on it, a word that we were invited to meditate on through the year. My word was “prayer”, and, since last January, my star has been stuck to the wall next to my bed.
My intension was to see my star upon waking up and upon going to sleep and to therefore begin and end each day in prayer. What I have discovered is that I’d rather push snooze in the morning until I have to jump out of bed to make breakfast for the kids, and at night I look at books and screens rather than stars. Such is the way of daily life.
But my star has led me someplace. It has led me to discover that prayer needs to be more intentional and more integrated and that (for me) these are too different (and equally necessary) kinds of prayer.
Integrated prayer is a way of living life knowing God is right there with me. It is prayer as walking, as breathing, as eating, as going about the necessary tasks of life knowing that we are living on sacred ground, in sacred space, in God’s presence. I need this kind of prayer in my life
Intentional Prayer is something else. Intentional prayer is akin to the “taming scene” in The Little Prince (maybe you heard me speak of it at last Sunday’s forum). The Little Prince meets a fox, and the fox asks the boy to tame him, to come to him at the same time each day, so that the fox might begin to anticipate their time together and begin to be happy. The fox says that if the boy comes at just any random time, he won’t know at what hour his heart should be ready to greet the boy. “You must observe the proper rites” he says. I love that.
We in the church have rites for a very good reason, they help our hearts to know at what hour to be ready to greet our God in an intentional way, with undivided attention.
Our rites help guide intentional prayer; the daily office on Wednesdays, Sunday worship, Advent Vespers, groups that meet at the same time each week to pray and speak of the matters of the spirit. At the forum on Sunday, someone raised the good concept of establishing a prayer space in our homes so that our bodies can go to the space and our eyes can see our specially chosen icons, and our hands can light a candle and we can pray, undistracted by the daily tasks, embodied in time and space, intentional and present.
This Advent I pray that we all have the space and clarity to re-establish ties with our spirit and with the spirit of God in both integrated and intentional ways, by the Grace of the Anticipated One.
Yours in Christ,