Saturday, October 25, 2014

Praying on pilgrimage...

Timing is everything, yes?  Just ask a comic - or a musician - or an air traffic
controller. The ancient aphorism is right: when the student is ready, the Buddha will appear. The day my father died, one week ago today, a new prayer book arrived for me.  It is John Philip Newell's, Praying with the Earth: A Prayer Book for Peace. It is physically beautiful, using Hebrew, Christian Celtic and Muslim Art like an ancient illuminated manuscript; and theologically rich, inviting each day's prayer with words from the Hebrew Bible, the Gospels and the Qu'ran.

As we have been on pilgrimage to and from my father's memorial service, I have been praying these liturgies. Not deeply or thoroughly, to be sure, but in a whimsical way that leaves a lot of space for prayerful improvisation. It has been a blessing and a gentle sacred anchor in a sea of complicated emotions. Last night's invitation to contemplation included these words.

Teach me your way, O God, that I may walk in your truth. (Psalm 86: 11)


The presence of God is like treasure hidden in a field. (Matthew 13: 44)


Speak for justice even if it affects your own family. (Qu'ran - Cattle 6: 152)


Not only am I grateful for the guidance in forming my prayers during this time of pilgrimage, I am encouraged that these liturgies intentionally and sensitively create a prayerful circle-dance for peace-makers among Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As the artwork in this prayer book illustrates, our fate and our faith are interwoven. The more we claim and celebrate this truth - especially in this age of polarization, hatred and violence - the more we find ourselves saturated with the blessings of the kingdom of God.

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