This morning, after dropping Anna off at 5:45 a.m. to catch a bus for a school field trip to Pigeon Forge, I pointed the Corolla north into Kentucky, across the Ohio River into Indiana, through the thriving metropolis of Santa Claus, and over on Highway 62 to the St. Meinrad Archabbey for a week long pilgrimage and retreat trying to regain some energy and spark in my ministry following a long and busy Lent. Much of the day was spent in finding my bearings, making an appointment with my spiritual director for tomorrow, and participating in the Vespers and Compline services of prayer. Here are a few random thoughts from the day:
- Y’all need to be praying for the good people of Northwestern Kentucky and Southern Indiana, for they’ve had a bunch of rain and I saw some pretty good flooding in the farmlands on the way up here. The Ohio River as way out of it’s banks, and if they get the five inches of rain they are calling for in the next day or so, it wouldn’t take much to see some of the towns along the river underwater. God, we know that you put the rains in motion, but can’t you share the wealth with our friends in Colorado who are running short?
- Although I have participated in communal prayer in a monastic setting, this is the first time I have ever participated in these prayers in English. My previous experience was with the Benedictine community at the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgah, Israel, and that community did all their liturgy in German. While the folks that I was with and I did a fair job of following along in German (considering that none of us knew the language) it is refreshing to sing these prayers in my own language. The biggest difference however is that the community in Tabgah was very small, and the brothers there encouraged participation side by side with them due to the small size. St. Meinrad is a much bigger place, and there is a stronger line of separation – not inhospitable in the least, but certainly not as intimate as those experiences in Israel.
- As one who grew up in the world of fundamentalist, evangelical, revivalist Protestantism, I am still learning the bows, kneels, and genuflects of high church Roman Catholicism. What I admire is the absolute sense of reverence and holiness in the service – from the bowing to the host upon entry, to the incense wafting to the ceiling. On the one hand it seems strange to my, and yet it is also oddly familiar. Certainly it emphasizes the otherness and mystery of God, moving from the familiarity of the buddy Christ of modern evangelicalism to the master creator/painter who is painting the portrait of our lives.
Now it’s time to go to sleep (morning prayers begin at 5:30 a.m.!). We’ll see what tomorrow brings (besides more rain!).