We sit in silence out on the deck of a lovely cabin in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It is time for Morning Prayer. We listen to Gregorian chant sung by monks, setting our hearts in rhythm to the ancient cadence that has graced myriads of cathedrals throughout the ages. As the monks sing out to the glory of God, the birds around us add their voices to the choir. They lift their voices in praise of the only God, the creator of all. A squirrel barks and a jay scolds while the songbirds tweet melodically. All are part of the chorus, just like the various instruments of an orchestra. Each has its part to play in the symphony of praise to God this morning.
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
Praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
Praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
And you waters above the sky.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For at his command they were created. (Psalm 148 1-5)
As the words of the psalm end, we go into silence to contemplate the sounds of the earth, the trickling of the nearby stream, and the blessings of the new morning. The sun breaks over the trees and shines its face fully upon us as our leader reads these words,
“O Medicine of Dawn,
healing are your morning rays,
I lift my face toward
the ointment of your splendor
as I become a morning prayer.” *
That is the challenge for each day. How do I become a morning prayer? How do I raise my voice in praise, as it is so natural for the creatures of the earth to do? How do I add my own uniqueness to the chorus without falling into comparison or envy or desire to be something that I am not? Maybe my part to play is like the barking of a squirrel or the scolding of the jay. Neither of them is particularly beautiful by its self. And yet, each adds the bass notes to the symphony without which something would be missing. Am I content to be the bass player to someone else’s lead, someone else’s melody? It could mean being in the background. It could mean sounding the discordant note in alarm when something is off kilter. To be content with whatever role I am meant to play would mean surrender. Not surrender to an outside authority such as dogma, religious rules or requirements but surrender to truth, to consciousness, to joy, to community.
“Encourager of Morning,
Soft glory of the new day,
I am tasting the joy of being awake.
Let your face shine on me
That, I, in turn may shine on others.”*
It is through surrender that God can work through each of us to bring the light and love to others in need. We are all called to play a unique role in this world that only we can perform. We are called to be light bearers but to do so we must first let go of any darkness within us that blocks the light. We must make peace with our shadow side so that we can move from the small “self” to connection with the larger “Self” that is the experience of unity. As we do this, we are moving towards becoming fully human and embracing wholeness (holiness). While it might seem overwhelming, it really only requires living in the moment, being as conscious as we can at any given time. Simple yet complicated in its simplicity. Ah, the paradox of God!
“As Morning Blossoms,
I go forth to meet the great shining,
The dear unfolding of the day.
With the fading night
I begin a sacred dance
In the arms of your shining.”*
The song of the morning is calling to each of us. Listen to the rhythm that was placed in your heart at birth. Join the dance of the universe and surrender to the arms of God’s shining.
*All quotes taken from Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, Marcina Wiederkehr