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.

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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.

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

A Mother’s Prayer

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

This prayer was written three years ago, during a time when
my nearly-grown twin sons were in severe crisis, a dark time
of fear and sorrow and helplessness. I offer it today on behalf
of other parents in similar circumstances.

O Lord, help me to realize and remember that, much as I love and cherish and agonize over my children, You love and cherish them so much more than I can begin to comprehend.

You suffered agony for them beyond my imagining. You made them before I ever bore them in my body. You earnestly desire their eternal good – and You have both the understanding of what that is and the ability to bring it about.

Help me day by day, moment by moment, to entrust them into Your hands. I give them, again, into Your care, heavenly Father, asking that the angels have charge over them, to guide them in health and wholeness, in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son.  Amen.

~ Rebekah Choat