I conducted a sidewalk “meet and greet” in April. David Hendee helped me. Well, actually, he did all the work.
You remember, I posted photos (on Facebook and Instagram) and told about meeting Rabbi Ruth. David helped me bag little white begonias in cut down brown paper lunch bags with a tag telling about our Church of the Woods on Fourth Sundays at Four.
We did this in the spirit of one of the ‘takeaways’ from our church growth study group last spring, which was: “Fall in love with your Neighborhood”.
We invited passersby to color a prayer flag for the earth, since it was close to Earth Day, and we at Highpoint are very connected to the earth and the woods and the garden and the natural world that we see through our clear glass windows during church. We’ve been stringing the prayer flags on the line along the path up to the meeting circle in the woods.
So. . . as I invited people to decorate a prayer flag, it was a thrill to meet many of our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, many of whom were out for a leisurely stroll with family. One woman was even practicing her Hebrew as she walked. Not only was it the very last day of Passover but it was also Shabbat!
When one couple stopped to chat, I asked if they would like to write a prayer for the earth. And explained that it could be anything:
a request of the earth,
a blessing for the earth,
a thanksgiving or intercession on behalf of . . . the earth.
And She said,
“Oh! . . .Well. . .no. We won’t be able to do that because it would be writing, and we cannot write on this holy day, it would be considered ‘work’.”
So I asked boldly, “Well? Could you say the prayer and let me write it for you?”
Her face brightened, and she said “Yes! We could do that!”
So, poised, with art markers in hand, ready to write, I waited. And since they had been put on the spot, they hemmed and hawed, and sputtered around a bit, trying to think of something to say as a prayer.
Moments passed, pregnant pauses, and suddenly her husband blurted out in joyful jubilation and spiritual abandon:
“More days like today!” That was it!
And he added, “Yes, say that! More days like today!”
I could hardly keep from squealing! He offered a high five for both creation and creator! Beautiful!
I just loved that prayer!
Spiritual abandon. Plain spoken. Right from the heart. A true prayer.
And that is the simple thing that we (the worship and music team and I) are asking you to do for six weeks this summer, during the prayers of the people! To pray like that!
We're inviting you into an experiment with prayer!
We have prepared six boxes.
Each corresponds to one of the intentions listed at the beginning of the prayers of the people on p. 383 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Each small group will explore the contents of one box per week.
By the end of the series, each of us will have made our way around the room to each box.
This will be a simple, 10-minute, small group process of experiential prayers that will include 3 easy things:
a brief period of exploring the stuff in the boxes
thoughtful conversation and reflection about what the stuff makes us think about for praying and
simple sentence prayers, in the small group (nothing like ‘public speaking’ mind you), just a "more days like today!" kind of thing.
With time, it can become a way for you to keep St. Paul’s urging: to “pray without ceasing”, because everything everywhere can become inspiration to offer little prayers as you make your way through your days.
Simple. Plain spoken. Joyful. Heartfelt. Uncrafted. And with abandon.
After all, that is the way I pray you!
Reverend Ruth Pattison
Rev. Pattison serves the people of Highpoint Episcopal Community Church as the Parson, exercising her gifts for collaborative leadership through preaching, liturgy, and the pastoral arts.