Saturday Music: “How Deep the Father’s Love”

When I first heard this song, I thought it was probably from the 19th century. It isn’t. It’s from the 1990’s and Stuart Townend (the composer) wrote it as a hymn, which is a style different from his normal contemporary works. (Source)

I’m sharing it because I love it and it focuses on Jesus dying on the cross, which is what saves us as Christians.

How I Pray

Yes, I am technically writing this on Saturday and backdating it to Friday. Yes, I stink at doing Lent. Oh well.

As I am trying to figure out what to write about each day, I thought I would talk about some of the prayer resources I use in the event that people need something.

Also… I am an Amazon affiliate, so there will be Amazon affiliate links in this post.

So… here is what I like.

[+] Pray As You Go: This is what I mainly use right now. They give you some beautiful sacred music and a guided reflection based on Scripture. You can listen on the website, download it onto your computer, or get each day’s devotion on iTunes. I’m mostly listening on my laptop at 7 a.m. while I wait for my oatmeal to cool, but I’ve also listened in the car and it was my go-to when I lived in Montana and had an hour-long commute to and from work.

[+] Sacred Space: My best friend Rebecca introduced me to them 21 years ago. It’s guided reflections and they also have a prayerbook you can buy and keep on your e-reader.

[+] Devotional pamphlets: I used to use Our Daily Bread for 20 years, and I stopped using it in 2016 for reasons… which was also when I stopped praying as much. My church distributes Forward Day by Day, which is what we use on the occasions I actually make it to Mary’s Guild on Wednesday mornings. I based the Lenten devotional books around the format of these two. (If you want to download a copy of it, go here.)

[+] The Jesus Prayer: This is how I get through painful medical procedures. It’s simply “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I also do this a lot while I’m doing things like stripping the sheets off of my bed, cooking something that takes a long time, and on the drive home from Trader Joe’s in Bellingham. (That last one started when Daniel was being difficult on one trip up there, and I found that it calmed me so much that I made it a habit.) I find that things come into my mind to pray about when I do it.

[+] Extemporaneous prayer: Anyone who has ever spent time with me in a work environment has seen me randomly cross myself. It’s usually when I find out about someone who really needs prayer… so I pray for them. 🙂 It is also what I am doing as part of my kneeling prayers during Lent.

[+] Daily Devotions from the Book of Common Prayer: Again, anyone who has spent time with me at the college has seen me do this. I used to do it a lot while sitting in the hallway waiting for my Accounting class to start during my first year there. I had one person freak out because they thought I was in a trance and when I whispered “praying”, they got super apologetic. 🙂 Almost all of my classmates knew I prayed for them, and a number of my students know as well… and it’s actually been something really positive because it has started some interesting conversation and many of them have prayed for me during health crises. I have the BCP app on my phone, so I just use that.

7 Quick Takes: Booted Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Explaining the title. I sprained my foot and then proceeded to be my peripatetic self for two weeks until it got excruciatingly painful to put weight on it. So… I went to Urgent Care last Friday, got an x-ray done, and they put me in a walking boot. I asked if they couldn’t just show me how to tape it up, and the provider looked at me like I was crazy. (I am, but that’s not the point.)

So… I’ve been in the boot for about a week now and it’s helping me to not make it worse. It has also led to my priest calling me “Stumpy” (no, I didn’t kick him), one of my choir members teasing me about fighting him for the last pancake on Tuesday (I didn’t), and my evil twin commenting that I got “booted” for having unpaid parking tickets. Hmph.

My boot.

— 2 —

Dress funnies. I woke up at 9:02 on Tuesday and had to be at the clinic for my appointment at 9:20. I hurriedly tossed on a dress and my fitness leggings, put a sock on my booted foot, shoved my foot into the boot, limped downstairs, put a dress shoe on my non-booted foot, and managed to make it out of the house by 9:10. I arrived at the clinic with coffee at 9:17. 😀 (My former mother-in-law used to joke that I could go from “zero to car” in 4 minutes… which is kind of accurate.)

However, I stunned my parents by wearing a dress on a day other than Sunday, and one of my co-tutors barked at me for wearing a dress on a day when I wasn’t on campus. I am now required to provide 24 hours notice to her if I plan to wear a dress so she can witness this. (I did send her a picture.)

My dress from Tuesday.

— 3 —

Forsythia. My grandmother used to bring forsythia from her garden to church during this time of year before Lent started, so I brought some last Sunday in her memory. Mom picked it and forced it along toward opening. Those who knew Grandma and Grandpa loved it.

Forsythia.

— 4 —

Facing my fears. Before worship yesterday, I asked our musician (who normally sings tenor in the choir) if he needed help with music during Communion. He said that he’d be happy to have me sing with him because it meant that I could sing in English and he could sing simultaneously in Spanish… which is how I ended up cantoring “I Am the Bread of Life” with him and inadvertently facing my fear of singing by myself in public. I now have no excuse not to take my own cantoring part in the Great Litany on Sunday… maybe.

My #ashtag.

— 5 —

Elizabeth Warren. She appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the videos are hysterically funny. It’s so good to see a candidate with a sense of humor. I’m sure she wouldn’t boycott the White House Correspondents Dinner like 45 has.

— 6 —

WTAF?!?!?!? This just infuriates me.

— 7 —

Kelly’s Lent. Girlfriend is crazy. Her Lenten list is here.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

Kneeling

Most of my readership is devoutly Catholic, so kneeling in church is normal for y’all. It is, however, not for a lot of Christians, and it can make me a bit self-conscious to be the only one kneeling on occasion.

When I came to faith as a teenager, it was normal in my church, so I honestly didn’t think anything of it. Then, I spent time in a bunch of ELCA and AALC parishes where anything remotely Catholic was weird. (This is not a denomination-wide thing, at least in the ELCA. It’s a matter of congregational culture.) When I was pregnant with Daniel and afterward, I did a lot of sitting due to fatigue and sometimes back pain, so I got out of the habit of kneeling.

In 2014, I went back to the Episcopal Church and it was put on my heart to kneel for the confession of sin. My parish at the time had the choir leading music from the back and we were in chairs, not pews, and our chairs did not give us a place to kneel in front. I would self-consciously take a knee in the style of Colin Kaepernick or I would walk to one of the chairs in the back and kneel there. My self-conscious feelings changed when I was helping with contemporary worship one month when one of the guitarists and his wife also went to one of the chairs in the back and knelt with me.

Another thing that impacted me during this time was watching the fathers of young kids in the congregation (some of whom were my age) go to the kneelers in front of the bank of candles and kneel there with their kids. I’m normally a people watcher, and I will admit that it warmed my heart to see this, especially as I could tell it was having an effect on the kids. It definitely lowered my feelings of self-consciousness.

At my current parish, the people I sit with normally are totally used to it and are totally fine when I tell them that I’m about to drop the kneeler. They’re so used to it, in fact, that they put it down for me. 🙂 I find that it is actually really helpful for my faith to have different prayer positions, and I am really happy to be part of a church who is completely respectful of me doing what works best for me.

Ash Wednesday

It is Ash Wednesday today, so I thought I would start my Lent off by sharing T.S. Eliot’s words on the subject. (Source)

I

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

II

Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.

III

At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitful face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man’s mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs’s fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.

IV

Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary’s colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and in knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary’s colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

V

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

VI

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Lent 2020

This Lent, I am not giving up my blog. In fact, I’ll be doing the opposite this year and blogging daily on something faith-related, even if it is just posting something like a poem or a song or something I have written in the past that might still be relevant.

I will also be going pesco-lacto vegetarian for Lent (meatless except for fish) and I am adding kneeling prayer twice a day to my prayer habit.

7 Quick Takes: Things I Will *NOT* Give Up For Lent Edition

7 Quick Takes

Lent starts for those of us in the West next Wednesday at midnight. Here are some things that I will *NOT* give up for Lent this year.

— 1 —

Coffee. My Lenten discipline should be penitential for *ME*, not everyone around me. It’s also a safety risk for those who have to interact with me.

— 2 —

YouTube. I need entertainment, OK?

— 3 —

Yarn. Let’s not deprive me of one of my stress releases, y’all.

— 4 —

My iPod. Again, let’s not make me get rid of one of my stress releases. Singing along to it in traffic keeps me from inflicting my road rage on others.

— 5 —

Sleep. I do this enough already!

— 6 —

Swearing. I’d be broke within the first day of having a swear jar for Lent. (I’m pretty sure my students would have a pool going as to which hour this was going to go down.)

— 7 —

Pens. I have a little bit of a pen addiction…

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.