Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Proud Houses and the Widow's Boundaries

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 -- Week of Proper 3, Year Two

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 969)
Psalms 26, 28 (morning)        //        36, 39 (evening)
Proverbs 15:16-33  
1 Timothy 1:18 - 2:8
Matthew 12:33-42

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]
The LORD tears down the house of the proud,
     but maintains the widow's boundaries.
  (Proverbs 15:25)

It does seem that when we rely on our own powers and seek control to bring about our self-directed ends that things tend to unravel. 

Sometimes they unravel through circumstance and failure.  We meet our limits.  We wear out in frustration or find we can't maintain control of all that we feel responsible for.  We mess up.  We don't live up to our intentions.  The proud house cracks and crumbles.

Sometimes they unravel through success and accomplishment.  We meet our goals and gain our ends, but they prove ultimately unsatisfying.  They are like cotton candy, big and beautiful with a burst of instant sweetness, but once consumed, they melt into air and do not sustain.  We look for the next big thing, like a restless addict.  The big, proud house feels empty and cold.

The widow is a model of vulnerable trust.  With no status and power of her own, she trusts God alone for her simple needs.  Within her modest boundaries the Spirit maintains her essential needs with gentle grace. 

Centering Prayer is a widow's prayer.  When we practice Centering, we gently let go of all of our distracting thoughts and plans and worries.  We narrow our boundaries to a willing consent to the presence and activity of God, within and without.  When the false self tries to erect it's proud houses, we let them go, returning to the gentle poverty of a sacred word.  Instead of assailing heaven with our possessive thoughts and personal agendas, we let the Spirit pray from within our silence.  The indwelling Spirit prays faithfully and continually.

When the Spirit dwells within a person, from the moment that person has become prayer, the Spirit never leaves them.  For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray within us.  Whether we are asleep or awake, from then on prayer never departs from our soul.  Whether we are eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else we may be doing, even if we are in the deepest of sleeps, the incense of prayer is rising without effort in our heart.  Prayer never again deserts us.  In every moment of our life, even when it appears to have ceased, prayer is secretly at work within is continuously. 

One of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, teaches that prayer is the silence of the pure in heart; for their very thoughts are the movements of God.  The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified become voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God. 

     (Isaac of Nineveh, from The Ascetical Treatises; quoted by Robert Atwell, Celebrating the Seasons, Canterbury Press, 1999, p.296.)


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to: http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location
-- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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