Friday, March 9, 2012

Prayer for Better Prayer

Resolving to ask God to make me a better pray-er in the morning. Consulting my body, consulting its experience, here are three observations from morning prayer and Eucharist today.

1. The sounds of the city encroach on our chapel: the whistle of the crossing guard, the bark of the dog, the roar of the elevated train. Usually I can tune them out or bring them into tune with prayer, but not this morning. I especially dislike the sound of sirens. They were ever-present this morning. Rather than bracing the prayers, they intruded on them and undermined them. For me, their noise interfered with the signal of the Word. If only I could not hear them! But I cannot help it. For the first time I am wondering what prayer is like for those who cannot hear.

2. It is hard to speak well early in the morning. When I recite the psalms or proclaim Scripture, my voice is sandy and full of clams. I can feel how constricted my throat is; it is not yet relaxed, as it is by the evening. The nasal drip doesn't help, either. Strangely enough, it feels easier to sing the hymns than to recite the psalms. For some reason, when I sing, my voice is clear and produces a clean tone. Why is this? What say you, choirmasters?

3. Being responsible for the sacristy has made me more aware of the condition of the chapel. The spots of wax on the carpet around the altar. How much holy water is in the font; how clean is the font. Now I find myself distracted by the menial tasks that come to mind unbidden. It's time to change the altar candles; it's time to clean the candlesticks. The sanctuary lamp needs a new candle. The linens for Eucharist, the purificators and corporals, have to be cleaned and ironed. The Eucharistic vessels need to be polished. There is no more sacramental wine in the sacristy!

God, help me focus on you. Tune my body to the frequency of your Word. Let our prayer space and the sacred things we use for worship draw us closer to you. Amen.

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