This afternoon I settled on our front porch to read and write a little.
First I read and prayed from the Book of Common Prayer 2011, even though it was technically afternoon and I was praying Morning Prayer. One of my favorite prayers in the BCP is the Te Deum, a prayer dating from the fifth century, and I'd love to share it with you here:
The Great Hymn of Praise (Te Deum Laudamus)
WE praise you, O God; We acknowledge you to be Lord.
All creation worships you--the eternal Father.
To you all the angels proclaim,
To you all creatures of heaven proclaim,
To you Cherubim and Seraphim proclaim aloud,
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
Heaven and earth are filled with the brightness of your glory."
To you the glorious company of apostles sing praise;
To you the worthy company of prophets sing praise;
To you the white-robed army of martyrs sing praise;
Throughout the world, your holy Church sings praise to you:
The Father, whose glory is never-ending;
Your true and only Son, who deserves our worship;
With the Holy Spirit, our help and our comfort.
O Christ, you are the King of Glory.
You are the Father's Son from the beginning.
When you became man to set humanity free,
You did not refuse a human birth.
When you overcame the power of death,
You opened heaven to all believers.
Now you sit at God's right hand, in the Father's glory;
You will come again to be our Judge.
So come, Lord Jesus, to help your people,
Whom you have redeemed with your precious Blood.
May we be counted with your saints in everlasting glory.
O Lord, save your people and bless your heritage.
Direct them, and raise them up forever.
O Lord, day by day we glorify you;
We worship your Name always, forever and ever.
O Lord, by the help of your grace, keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let your mercy be upon us, even as we trust in you.
O Lord, in you have I trusted and will never be ashamed.
(Is6.2-3; Rev4.4-11; Jn1.14;5.20;14.26; Ps24.10;28.9;145.2;123.3;33.22;31.1; Jam2.1)
After I finished my time of prayer and Scripture reading, I wrote in my journal about the happenings of the past week, pen gliding slowly across pages as thoughts are pinned down, wriggling a bit in protest.
There is something so relaxing, for me at least, in writing in a beautiful journal with a beautiful instrument--the ebb and flow of ink filling the thick pages, the slowing down of thought to match the pace of penmanship. The simple act of writing brings me such peace...which could be why I have kept journals off and on since 1980. I still possess my journals from high school; I've been thinking that I need to hunt those down from our attic storage area this summer. The handwriting is poor, the thoughts pedestrian, but the attempts at journaling will evoke many memories long forgotten, and for that reason, I would like to revisit them.
After writing in my journal, which I do on a weekly basis rather than daily, I finished the fifth chapter of Ann Voskamp's wonderful book One Thousand Gifts. Her writing is so beautiful and poignant, poetic yet stark in a way. Perfectly trimmed. And she writes from a place of transparency, of true humility and reality, not afraid to bare her soul and expose the ugliness we all attempt to mask. The main premise of the book is gratitude, an element of life I am attempting to grasp and apply to my own life on my own journey to 1000 Gifts with the Gratitude Community at Ann's blog, A Holy Experience. Her writing needs to be read slowly, thoughtfully, meditatively--it needs time to sink in, to take root and grow deep.
Next I tackled one of my few summer projects: copying my Gratitude List into a regular journal. Over the eighteen months that I've been keeping my list of Gifts, I've been copying and pasting the lists from this blog into a Word document which I then printed to copy into a leather-bound journal so that I can jot down more Gifts throughout my weeks rather than merely on Mondays. I want to be able to pin down gifts as they come to me rather than wrack brain for them because blank blog window demands each Monday.
With my swollen, painful hands, I can only copy ten to twenty entries per day even with my beloved, comfortable fountain pen. So this project will take a good portion of my summer.
So this is how I spent my afternoon--a lazy summer afternoon with no demands, no needs as boys were working with Keith and Elizabeth was watching something in her room. The house behind me was quiet, and the summer-browned meadow spread silent before me, only the turn of page or the scratch of pen marring the stillness...along with the occasional stellar jay call and breezes making their music through the reaching tree branches.
On a lazy, lovely summer's day,