Returning from a most meaningful time of rest and re-creation – perhaps the most meaningful I have had in recent memory. There was time for personal retreat and renewal – participating for the better part of a week in a “Benedictine Experience” in Dallas. There was real time to work and sweat – with downtime to read and pray – here around the house as we set up home. (I’d say we are 95% of the way done: cars are in the garage, only a half dozen boxes sitting in a closet [where they can stay], ceiling fans hung,… Really, only some pictures to hang!) And, then, there was participation in a “Day of Wellness” for clergy at Methodist Hospital. Yes, there could have been a few more day trips sprinkled in – and seeing friends out and around. Still, though, it was most meaningful time of “Sabbath.”
So meaningful, in fact, that I thought I’d take a few postings to process… and to share reflections and insights and gleanings from this time apart.
I begin with (and probably have the most to share from) the “Benedictine Experience” in Dallas at the end of June. It’s designed as an opportunity for the those so interested (lay and clergy… across denominational lines) to get a taste of living the life and prayer rhythm of a monastic lifestyle — with lectures sprinkled in on Benedictine Spirituality (i.e., Spirituality and Theology and Devotional Rhythm emanating from the ancient Rule of St. Benedict). It’s long been an interest of mine. (See previous posts.) Truly, it was a refreshing experience that opened my mind and heart to alternative ways of prayer and devotion and living.
A quite simple and innocent gesture is among the first things I’d elevate and reflect upon: coming into the Oratory (i.e., the worship center) and bowing – bowing to an icon reflective of the Christ in our midst… and, before taking our seats, bowing to others in the room. No, we were not bowing to the icon but bowing to the Lord and Savior it conveyed – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit behind it. And the bow we made to one another? It was simply a way, with our bodies, of affirming the sacredness of the others in the room – the reality that Christ is in our neighbor.
I know that we Protestants can misunderstand and misjudge our Catholic brothers and sisters as they employ their holy water and genuflections and do their signs of the cross. (I am relieved that our misunderstandings and especially our judgments are not as pronounced as they used to be!) Refreshing for me, though, was the way that my body was a part of my spirit in the Worship and Devotion: bowing had me truly feeling that I was in the presence of the Holy – truly in the presence of a Lord and King who was more than worthy of a bow. And bowing to my neighbor had me truly feeling a more profound sense of the sacredness and worth of the other. In a way, the bowing of morning, noon, evening and night prayer times had me “bowing” throughout the day – well beyond the worship center. I found myself walking with a much more contrite heart throughout the “sanctuary” of the day and our retreat facilities.
So, take a bow! Trace a sign of the cross over mind and heart and soul! Let your fingers touch the sacred and mysterious waters of life and baptism! And, amidst it all, ask your self if it does not find – in this cooperation, this convergence of body and action and soul and creed – a certain heightening of devotion and reverence in your deeper spirit and soul!
We bow down,
We cast our crowns
At the feet of Jesus.
The greatness of
His mercy and love…
at the feet of Jesus
And we cry holy, holy, holy,
Holy, holy, holy…
is the Lamb.