Rainy Season and a Cloud of Witnesses

rainy window

Rainy season. It’s that time of year in Thailand when I crank up the AC and curl up by the window with a book, cup of tea and a blanket and pretend that it’s winter.

 It’s an art of mental foolery. I see the clouds and listen to the rain. I invoke images of a roaring fire, flannel PJs, and zippy cool air that carries currents of change. I don’t even like pumpkin spiced lattes, but I imagine drinking one. My heart and mind long for a season that’s energizing and refreshing. But then I step outside into this blessed stagnant steam and I’m undone. Alas, it is the same hot mess as it always was.

A few weeks ago we sang Great is Thy Faithfulness at church and I was distracted by the need for lyrics alterations. Summer and Winter and Springtime and Harvest would be better understood in Bangkok as Summer and Hell and Steamy Rain Bath and Summer.

 The kids like being able to swim year round, but for me the summer that never ends is so disorienting.

 Why are we so wired for seasons? Our bodies, minds and spirits are primed for change and continuous renewal. Our spirit needs a time of stillness, reflection and contemplation, followed by a time of growth, new life, and new beginnings.

I’ve come to believe that these steady rhythms of life are sacred.

Lately I’m finding value and blessing in the sacredness of rhythmic, liturgical prayer. Prayers said out loud throughout the day are like mini seasons of the soul. I felt like my own stream-of-consciousness prayers were hemming me into one season. I was suffocating on my own ego. My own dizzying thoughts on repeat had become stagnant and discordant.

I needed voices from the past, the cloud of witnesses, to bring rain when I need rain and shine light when I need light. Prayers have the power to transcend time and space and speak life into the present.

Lately, I’ve undergone what St. John of the Cross has called the dark hour of the soul. Have you ever felt that?

When something you thought you understood completely just collapses in front of you. When people or situations break your heart into a million pieces. Or maybe its compassion fatigue–when you’ve carried a burden for so long that it all becomes too heavy and too dark and begins to break you. Or when hope is outweighed by despair. When you want to throw in the towel and render it all meaningless. And when God feels so distant in all of it.

When I’m too heartbroken for words, it is the words of these ancient torch-bearers that build me up. They are formative and restorative. They save my faith and bring me peace at a time when I want to rage. I am pulling from the Psalms, the Book of Common Prayer, but mostly the Celtic Daily Prayer book.  They are energizing when I need to be uplifted and they are comforting when I need to mourn.

I am still new to liturgical prayer. My protestant upbringing frowned upon liturgical, ritualistic prayers and practices:

God is a personal God.

We have a personal relationship with Christ, and our prayers reflect that as such.

 Ritualistic religion is empty and dead.

 I’ve heard all these things my entire life and I’ve said them.

But yet the sweetest time of day for my children and me has become our evening prayer time. We light our candles, dim the lights, say our personal prayers and then close with the daily office Celtic Evening Prayer.

IMG_8194.JPG

I will wait for the Lord.

My soul waits, and in His word

do I hope…

 

Lord, You have always given

bread for the coming day;

and though I am poor,

today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always given

strength for the coming day;

and though I a weak,

today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always given

peace for the coming day;

and though of anxious heart,

today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always kept me

safe in trials;

and now, tried as I am,

today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always marked

the road for the coming day;

and though it may be hidden,

today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always lightened

this darkness of mine;

and though the night is here,

today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always spoken

when time was ripe;

and though you be silent now,

today I believe.

 And the evening blessing:

See that ye be at peace among yourselves, my children, and love one another. Follow the example of good men of old and God will comfort you and help you, both in this world and in the world which is to come

It is still new for the kids. They giggle throughout and anticipate the final In the name of the Father… so they can fight over who gets to blow out the candles. But I hope with time they are able to remember and cherish these beautiful prayers and be formed by their strength and encouragement.

For now, we are waiting out rainy season mostly indoors–one hot, grace-filled day at a time.

19433417_10154396302572504_1945358248_n
view from my kitchen window
Advertisements

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Mona Wortham Riggs says:

    I think your babes will love your nightly family prayer time! For me, liturgical music and singing adds such a personally uplifting component, coming equally from my Catholic mom and my Baptist daddy. (And from all the years I spent as an organist at St. Joseph’s in Leitchfield!) Aren’t our beloved hymns nothing but repetitive prayer? I feel a wonderful connection to all of my ancestors and current world-wide family knowing we all pray the same liturgy. Our long-time laugh, though, is if you need someone to lead a group in prayer, call on the Protestant in the group! We Catholics are learning…….. Love you and love your writing!

    1. Natalie says:

      Yes! I’ve heard it said that our heart beats synchronize when we are singing together. What a beautiful thought as that extends to our family both past and present, words and lyrics said and sung in the same spirit. Love you Mona! ps: wish my dad were still around to see how I’ve become a little “Catholish” 🙂

  2. Lauryl says:

    Truly beautiful Natalie! Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart and soul…love you!

    Lauryl

    1. Natalie says:

      Thank you sweet Lauryl! Love you and miss you tons. xoxo

  3. Tricia Rapp says:

    Beautiful!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s