|Behind the back dorms, Pine Valley Bible Conference Center|
Because I had to drive my daughter to work at the nearby Bible Camp (officially the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center), I had to miss church at Lake Murray. At least J, E, and I attended Morning Prayer and the Holy Communion Healing Service at Victoria House with Father Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity Friday morning.
Since I would be at the Bible Camp already, I decided to take my Kindle (which contains my ESV Bible and my updated prayer list), my Book of Common Prayer 2011, and Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts and have a little worship service of my own: a Church of One Member. I settled into an Adirondack chair in the cathedral shade of vanilla-scented Jeffrey Pines and spent two hours praying, reading God's Word, and cogitating on the various truths in Ann's shy little book.
The sunshine was too warm, so I had to scoot my chair several times, following the blessed relief of shade. Then I settled in again, sipping mango tea and, after tossing my flip flops aside, I burrowed my bare toes into the cool lawn, still dew-damp.
The grounds were quiet at first, then shifted to busy and noisy as a large group of teens piled into buses returning them to the city, then all became near silence again, tranquility broken only by faint birdsong and occasion conversation of camp employees. A few times my daughter's voice wafted my direction as she cleaned the lodge rooms behind me, the familiarity making my wee Church of One more home-like.
Some friends from ancient school days assured me this morning on Facebook of the value of my little Church of One. One friend wrote, "The Sabbath is A Day Of Rest...It is his day off too!! :)," and "Church and communion are in the heart and actions, not a fish or dove displayed on a Volvo...." I value his piercing insight greatly; shining truth typed in reply to informal status, unexpected and welcome. And the other friend typed, "One can have 'church' anywhere. :)" Again, truth flutters, grasped within my reach.
But I know, too, the value of worshiping with our church families. We aren't meant to be alone in worship, although an occasional Church of One can be a welcome anomaly. This morning's two hours disappeared in a seeming instant in my personal cathedral under the ancient pines, my toes curling around damp, cool grass as I read, meditated, and prayed.
And prayer is the key. Some people have asked me how I can pray for an hour or more. It's so easy for hours of prayer to wane as time flutters by, unmarked. When we pray, we speak to the very heart of Our Father, the One who created us, who lovingly shaped our personalities, our minds, our bodies, our very souls. He adores us, loving us so far beyond our limited understanding, so far past our human comprehension.
So after coming home to the rare treat of vacant house this afternoon, I thumbed through my Quotation Journal which I have been keeping for a decade now (as of August 4). And I was drawn to a group of quotations that sought to define prayer....
"Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man [and woman] and inhaling the Spirit of God."
"Prayer is the spirit speaking truth to Truth."
--Philip James Bailey
And of course, the poet within felt a special affinity for this gem:
"Your prayer can be poetry, and poetry can be your prayer."
So as we rest and find refreshment on this Sabbath Day, a day on which I've decided to severely limit my computer use so that I can focus on other activities and truly seek a tranquil mind and spirit each week, may we focus on our communion with the One who promises to listen to our prayers, the One who loves us and gave His everything--His only Son--so that we may spend eternity in His Presence.
Praying and resting in Him this Sabbath day,