I will be leaving shortly and driving all day today to get to meetings in Indianapolis.
Before enjoying my normal road fare of classic rock and audiobooks, I like to listen to Morning Prayer as it is prayed by the Society of St. John the Evangelist on their CD entitled Singing the Daily Office.
In addition to the services of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline, the 2-CD set includes 20 minutes of plainchant hymns that the SSJE brothers sing at their monastery in Cambridge, MA. I’ve also copied my CD onto iTunes so the services and hymns are available for me to listen to anywhere.
Listening in the car like I will today not only allows me to “keep my eyes on the road / my hands upon the wheel” as Jim Morrison might put it, but it also helps me to hear the psalms, canticles, readings, and prayers of the Office in voices other than my own.
When you pray the Daily Office alone, you may fall into the habit of rushing through certain prayers or canticles. Listening to them may remind you to slow down, to observe the speed limit, to enjoy the scenery.
From the Rule of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Chapter 18: The Daily Office
“But for the office to be truly a means of our transfiguration we must cooperate by continually renewing our inner attentiveness, laying aside again and again the preoccupations and daydreams that confuse and tie us down. This effort to keep our hearts open to Christ will be needed all our lives; it is a hidden dying to self day by day.”
From the Collect for 6 Epiphany: “Because in our weakness we can nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace” (BCP 216).
How it must have hurt Israel (Jacob) to look up and see Esau coming, knowing that he was in the wrong. How it must have hurt to bow himself to the ground seven times as he approached, the morning after having his hip put out of joint in a wrestling match with God.
Israel limped on to meet his fate.
But Esau ran to meet him! Esau embraced him! Esau fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. Can you imagine the tear tracks running down Israel’s dusty face?
Have you been forgiven? I have, and it is both awful and wonderful.
In the Collect for Fridays (BCP 99), we pray that “we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace.” In today’s “Brother, Give Us a Word” email from the SSJE, Geoffrey Tristram reminds us that “the Gospels are clear there is only one way to be changed and transformed. And that is to die …. and then to allow Jesus to raise us to new life in him.”
What in you needs to die today? What do you need God to wrestle out of you today, even if you means you limp from now on?