Fan Letter

Dear Miss Rossetti, I remember you
long though it is since you have gone away.
Perhaps when you turned it was late for you;
yet your words counsel me and help me pray.

Though darkness and corruption worry, still,
a vestige of your thoughts also remains.
I mark your footprints on the road uphill
and seek myself the inn toward which you strained.

I’ve felt the weight of sorrow and sea-sand
and seen the brevity of spring and youth;
I’ve thought at times I’d almost seen the wind,
and all but drowned in ocean depths of truth.

I hear the bird sing in the apple tree,
and long for that birthday to come to me.

~ Rebekah Choat

Icons, Part Three

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

This statuette is the closest thing I have to a traditional icon. When she first came to pray in my garden some ten years ago, she was an angel, regal yet demure. She lost a wing during Hurricane Ike, which only made me love her more – though broken, she retained her beauty and poise.

The other wing was shattered when she was knocked down by a strong wind perhaps eighteen months ago, since when I have felt an even deeper connection to her. She is completely approachable now, and might be a friend, a kindred spirit. In some mystical way, I feel peace when I sit outside near her in the early mornings, and even when I look at her picture.

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

The Praying Lady speaks to me of Someone else, One who deliberately laid his divinity aside for a time and came to be like one of us, to be with us in all our joy and sorrow; One who sits now at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us.

In which I join Emily Dickinson in prayer…

At least to pray is left, is left,
(and wilt thou set things right,)
Oh Jesus in the air?
I’m knocking everywhere.
I know not which thy chamber is,
(else I would call when just in sight.)

(Or would I thus thy wrath incite,
who) settest Earthquake in the South,
and Maelstrom in the Sea.
(Lord, is that truly thee?)

(Thou art my one hope of respite:
I cast myself upon thy might.)
Say, Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
hast thou no arm for me?

~ Emily Dickinson (and Rebekah Choat) 

 

Word by Madeleine L’Engle

I, who live by words, am wordless when
I try my words in prayer. All language turns
to silence. Prayer will take my words and then
reveal their emptiness. The stilled voice learns
to hold its peace, to listen with the heart
to silence that is joy, is adoration.
The self is shattered, all words torn apart
in this strange patterned time of contemplation
that, in time, breaks time, breaks words, breaks me,
and then, in silence, leaves me healed and mended.
I leave, returned to language, for I see
through words, even when all words are ended.
I, who live by words, am wordless when
I turn me to the Word to pray.  Amen.

Tuesday’s Word: silence

silence (n):  the absence of sound or noise

 I never thought before about the distinction between sound and noiseSound, the dictionary says, is anything perceived by the sense of hearing, while noise denotes an unpleasant sound.

We can, if we try hard enough, find places of temporary escape from noise, but it’s virtually impossible to go anywhere completely devoid of sound.  Even as I write this in the sanctuary of my study, I hear the hum of the computer, the clicking of the keys as I type, the dull roar of a lawnmower a couple houses down, the varied sounds of cars and trucks on the street below and an airplane overhead.

Absolute physical silence may be an unattainable quality for most of us, but sometimes, through an alignment of long practice of prayer and sheer grace, we are blessed to find a spiritual inner silence that calms and sustains us.

 “Silence is that moment in which we not only stop the
discussion with others but also the inner discussions
with ourselves, in which we can breathe freely and
accept our identity as a gift…It is in this silence that
the Spirt of God can pray in us and continue its
creative work in us…” ~ Henri Nouwen

 “At the extremity of prayer words vanish, or rather the
silence-become-word surpasses all that can be uttered.
Prayer becomes the silence of Love…” ~ A.I. Okumura

We Stand to Prayer

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

The splendour of Nirvana is not ours,
We have no middle eye, no mystic wings,
And our brief visions take us unawares.
We stand to prayer as rows of earthen jars
Whose dark mouths open onto hidden things:
A secret kingdom where the poor are kings.

Here is an image of that inner place,
The quiet mountain country of the soul
With silver pools where lions drink their fill
And the pale unicorns lie down in peace.
Here is an emblem of the hidden grace
Beneath the flux and turmoil of what happens,
A quiet kingdom where the silence deepens,
Whose heart is hallowed by the Prince of Peace.

~ Malcolm Guite