Prayer flows easy as I join the Hours of the monastery each day. Underneath the commanding invocations, chanting psalms, and singing hymnody, arises the remembrance of others. Sometimes their presence drift into the space like a whisp of smoke, other times they grip me from below, coiling around my consciousness.
This week I have been in prayer for a childhood friend who is in hospice care. Her two year journey with cancer has been part of my prayer for a while. As a person who has known cancer myself, her story has been close to my heart. Today she rests at her childhood home in the company of her family. She feels close to me. Childhood memories of play and study come easily back to me. They are made sacred in this time of grief. My heart lifts her to God with each "your Kingdom come" uttered. It is a holy place.
As I go to prayer with the monastic community, I feel surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses of this life and the next. Their dedication to daily prayer has been a river of refreshing for my soul. Now two weeks into my sabbatical rest with the sisters, their prayer stream that reaches back to the ages has become mine also. I find the edges and boundaries of what is and what will be melting in the familiar joining of hearts in prayerful unison. I bring all those I love with me into the moment of prayer. They are here with me. I am here with them.
Into the hereness of the prayer, I find also myself more integrated and whole. Even as my mind wanders, I am caught and held together. The old becomes new. The raveled threads of the frayed parts of my story are woven back into the fabric of my life--God's life in me. They are again and again recalled and released into God's graceful strength and care. Today is new. This moment is now.
The prayer bell rings.