Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.
I have always loved this couplet of St Patrick’s Breast Plate Prayer. In times of distress it has centered me and given me comfort. But as I was reading it for the umpteenth time in light of the recent school shootings in Oregon, Arizona and Texas I felt if St. Patrick would mind if I added a couple of lines to his prayer. You see this prayer says nothing of the compassion, mercy, or Justus we are asked to extend beyond ourselves and into the world. So St. Patrick doesn’t mind, well even if he does, I think an addition is in order, perhaps something like this:
Christ in the heart of the wounded,
Christ in the hands of the comforter,
Christ in our forgiveness,
Christ in our love for the enemy
Christ in our carrying for those who harm us
Christ in how we live day to day.
This is what I would add, and maybe you would add something else. But whatever you add let your words open your heart to both the victim and the one who commits the crime. That is what we are asked to do; it is a small thing but Oh so hard to succeed at.
Psalm 95:7 For he is our God, . . . O that today you would hearken to his voice!
In the last couple of weeks as I have been recuperating from back surgery I have listened to a fair amount of music. Music centers me and reduces the amount of pain I have which means I can take fewer pain meds and that means fewer side effects.
As I was listening one day to Barbers “Adigio for Strings” I realized I was practicing a form of Lectio Divina, I hadn’t noticed doing that before and since then have purposely practiced what I call Audientes (that’s Latin for hearing) Divina. I have discovered some interesting insights and, I must admit, a greater sense of being as I went deeper into the music, or rather the music went deeper into me.
So I don’t know if anyone else has ever practiced this before, or have thought about it like this, but I am offering what I have been doing as a gift of my recuperation. Below you will find a clip of Samuel Barber’s Adigio for Strings and the instructions for my practice. I usually listen to chants, or instrumental pieces but I am sure there are other genres that produce the same meditative moments. If you find this useful, since this is a new way to “Hear God” as a practice at least from this perspective, please, let me know what types of music you use to enter into the quite center. Who knows maybe I too will hear the still small voice in something I haven’t tried before.
Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings, op.11. Uncut
Original broadcast from the Albert Hall in London September 15 2001.
Leonard Slatkin conducts the BBC Orchestra.
Instructions for Audientes Divina
With your eyes closed listen to the music and let the music wash over you, entering deeply into your consciousness; what images does the music bring up for you? Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.
Listen for a second time, with your eyes closed, as you listen let the music carry you deeper into your center. What in the music moves your closer to your inner center? What do you feel as you listen? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the music, or has it transported you to somewhere else? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
Respond to what you are feeling and your images with prayer. Did your experience of the music remind you of, a particular experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Or, as you listened to the music did it offer a deeper understanding of being part of the universe, life itself. Offer your thoughts to the Divine as an offering of who you, where you are at this moment and as a blessing for the journey you will continue on.
Rest in your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Let your body relax and set your mind free to hear what the God has to say to you words that have no sound.
May you hear the voice of the Divine in the music of life.
Jeremiah 33:6a Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them
In 3 days I am going to enter the hospital for back surgery. This is an eagerly anticipated event because I have been in so much pain for such a long time and this is my best chance at relief. But it got me thinking about healing and the value of touching and holding those in pain. It is not uncommon to be afraid to touch or hold a person in pain, either physical or mental pain, because we don’t want to cause them any additional discomfort. But, when it comes right down to it those of us who suffer chronic pain want to be held. To feel the gentle touch of another person helps us to know we are cared for and loved, that we aren’t forgotten or discarded. You see there is much power in the touch of the human hand.
The hands of the surgeon will move across my back and do their best to heal the damaged spine. The hands of the nurses will offer comfort with a warm blanket, a cool cloth for my head, or simply to touch and let me know I am not alone. My husband’s hands will hold mine before and after surgery and they will convey his love without words even if I am unable to respond to him. The hands of the physical therapist will hold me and support me as I regain my strength. The silent touches, hugs, and holding all convey the message of I care for you, I love you, and you are not alone.
My prayer practice for you this week is to be aware of those in need of your healing touch. Hold those you love in your arms, give a hug to someone struggling to make it through the day, or gently touch someone’s hand and let them know they aren’t alone.
I also am going to ask for prayers the surgery on Friday, that it will be successful and that I will be relieved of chronic back pain.
Thank you all, blessings and peace for the coming week.
We are coming to the end of Lent, a time of quiet reflection. One aspect of reflection is prayer; prayer for ourselves, the world, those who are suffering, and those who cause suffering. Today I am offering an ancient form of prayer for this week’s prayer practice called the “encircling prayer.” This particular prayer is based on a prayer I discovered at the Wells Cathedral in Wells England. It is a lovely prayer in which to hold in our hearts those in need of comfort and support, and for those who lay upon on hearts. As the above Celtic Prayer offers: ‘May the peace of the tallest mountain and the peace of the smallest stone be your peace. May the stillness of the stars watch over you. May the everlasting music of the wave lull you to rest.”
Circle Prayer Based on a Prayer found in the Gethsemane Chapel, Wells Cathedral, Wells, England This is a form of prayer used by early Celtic Christians.
It is called the Caim, the encircling prayer.
In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen
For those who commit acts of violence and injustice
Circle, O God, those who have committed acts of violence and justice, encircle them with your presence.
Help them to see the truth and to turn away from falsehood;
Help them to learn compassion and leave hard-heartedness behind;
Help them find the courage to turn away from evil;
May they feel your love in a world filled with hate;
Help them to see your light in the darkness.
In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Prayer for those on our heart
Circle, O God, (name the person(s) for whom you are praying), encircle them with your presence.