Tuesday, August 23, 2016

task and reward...

As I shift deeper into flâneur mode in anticipation of our time in Québec, I have started to use a new prayer/planner resource:  Sacred ORDINARY Days. My inner practices have been feeling stale - and sometimes neglected - of late. So, after spending the past two days writing liturgies for the Season of Creation, October and November worship as well as Advent - and finding renewed energy and wisdom in the recent edition of Iona's A Wee Worship Book - it was clear I needed assistance.  

One of the delightful tools within this liturgical planner is the invitation to note both the projects to be accomplished and the rest/reward I will add to the rhythm of each day.  What a brilliant albeit ordinary way of deepening my Sabbath commitments:  work AND rest in each day - project AND reward. There are also prayers at the header, Psalms for use throughout the day, and blank space to record ideas, actions or insights. In true flâneur spirit, I look forward to wandering through this text and letting it suggest unexpected ways to rest in the Lord.

This poem by Wendell Berry gets close to my ripening spirituality. It comes from his Sabbath Poems in 1979. More and more, a balance such as this speaks to my heart - and calls me to leave.

The bell calls in the town
Where forebears cleared the shaded land
And brought high daylight down
To shine on field and trodden road.
I hear, but understand
Contrarily, and walk into the woods.
I leave labor and load,
Take up a different story.
I keep an inventory
Of wonders and of uncommercial goods.

I climb up through the field
That my long labor has kept clear.
Projects, plans unfulfilled
Waylay and snatch at me like briars,
For there is no rest here
Where ceaseless effort seems to be required,
Yet fails, and spirit tires
With flesh, because failure
And weariness are sure
In all that mortal wishing has inspired.

I go in pilgrimage
Across an old fenced boundary
To wildness without age
Where, in their long dominion,
The trees have been left free.
They call the soil here “Eden”; slants and steeps
Hard to stand straight upon
Even without a burden.
No more a perfect garden,
There’s an immortal memory that it keeps.

I leave work’s daily rule
And come here to this restful place
Where music stirs the pool
And from high stations of the air
Fall notes of wordless grace,
Strewn remnants of the primal Sabbath’s hymn.
And I remember here
A tale of evil twined
With good, serpent and vine
And innocence of evil’s stratagem.

I let that go a while,
For it is hopeless to correct
By generations’ toil,
And I let go my hopes and plans
That no toil can perfect.
There is no vision here but what is seen:
White bloom nothing explains.

But a mute blessedness
Exceeding all distress,
The fresh light stained a hundred shades of green.

Uproar of wheel and fire
That has contained us like a cell
Opens and lets us hear
A stillness longer than all time
Where leaf and song fulfill
The passing light, pass with the light, return,
Renewed, as in rhyme.
This is no human vision
Subject to our revision;
God’s eye holds every leaf as light is worn.

Ruin is in place here:
The dead leaves rotting on the ground,
The live leaves in the air
Are gathered in a single dance
That turns them round and round.
The fox cub trots his almost pathless path
As silent as his absence.
These passings resurrect
A joy without defect,
The life that steps and sings in ways of death.

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