Wednesday, June 27, 2012

pondering the wild goose: morning prayer

Mornings at the Wild Goose Festival were wonderful. As I'd open my eyes to the sun peeking through the trees, one or both of the children would be staring at me, silently - watching me sleep. Which I found touching, considering how many times I've done the same with them.  One of the beauties of camping.

One morning little Molly came over to visit during breakfast. Another, I chatted with tent-neighbors Margie and Allana, young 20-somethings who had driven down from New Jersey.  And another, I was invited over to chat with tent-neighbors Jack and Carol, a delightful couple of my parents' generation who had come up from Georgia.  But I always excused myself in time to make it to morning prayer.

At 9 am Brian McLaren greeted those of us who staggered in, coffee in hand, not quite recovered from too-late talking or singing or dancing the night before.  Each day it was the same; he began by having us sing this song, which we'd start in a low key, then inch it up and up until we were singing it high and loud.  It really was beautiful.

Then someone else would lead us in this prayer, in a read/response fashion:

 Almighty God, to You all hearts are open, all desires known, and from You no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Someone would then read to us about a martyr - I specifically remember Martin Bishop of Tours and Hildegard. Inspiring stories of service and sacrifice.

Then Brian led us in singing the Lord's Prayer a new way.  First, though, we were invited to be fully present.  Remove your shoes.  Feel the grass.  Hear the birds.  Pray with your eyes OPEN. 

Then Pam Wilhelms led us in portions of the prayer from St. Patrick - each morning we added a bit more.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

At this point, we were asked to form groups of 6 or so.  We were given a passage of scripture and instructed that one person should read it aloud, then we sit in silence.  Someone else should read it aloud, then we sit in silence.  Finally, someone else read it aloud, then sit in silence.

Then we were invited to discuss the passage.  It was very good for me to hear others' perspectives, especially since Brian had not given us easy passages to discuss (one morning our reading was Psalm 137).

What really stuck with me though, was that each morning I met new people.  I remember the 3 fresh-faced college boys who came together, the couple who run a farm outside of Danville, VA, the young woman who is writing her dissertation for seminary on The Theology of Autism, the young man who I could tell just needed a hug so I asked if I could give him one and tears filled his eyes as he said "yes, please" (later, I saw him laughing as he danced it up during the parade), and the couple who met in AA, were recently married, and have started a ministry of their own in Tennessee.  I remember them - and they remember me.

Following group time, we were invited to stand and recite the prayer of Francis (which I can't say without hearing The Brilliance in my head)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

And finally, in closing, we clasped hands and sang Brian's song, from Teresa of Avila

I am grateful to Brian for sharing this time with us each day, and for inspiring me to use many of these tools here at home with our family and with other groups I may be given to lead.  So simple, so worshipful, so inspiring...

Morning prayer was like fresh wind blowing over the embers of my heart.

(next up, I reflect on my notes from the session on Sustainable Communities)


Jeannie said...

So wonderful. Thank you for posting. It was such a joy to meet you. Thank you for your shares during the morning group. Much love. Jeannie

Jeannie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cherie said...

Thanks for sharing your experience at Wild Goose. It was wonderful meeting you and spending time sharing in our small groups. Whenever I hear the Prayer of St. Francis, I hear Sarah McLachlan's version.:) Hope to see you next year!

Danny Lloyd said...

She got it right again folks!

Danny Lloyd said...

Michelle always adds a bit of poetry to any experience. Thanks MM!