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PICNIC
August 2, 2008
 
At the end of another hot day, a picnic: St. Luke's morning and evening prayer officiants gathered to celebrate our life together, before two of us head off to Italy. We joined the butterflies and bees in the garden after evening prayer for cold drinks, then moved to tables under the dogwood tree out back. It was cool in the shade, and we ate, drank and talked until long after it was dark. A little business -- Who will convene in the coming year? Who in the parish might be a good addition to the officiants team? -- and some observations about what it has meant to have this prayer rhythm in our lives.

Each person has his or her own time slot -- Cathy takes Monday mornings, Ted and Nino alternate Monday evenings, Nancy does Tuesday evenings. You get your own substitute if you can't take your turn. When we started, we didn't know if we'd be able to cover every day,morning and evening: St. Luke's isn't a huge parish. We didn't want to burn people out -- would enough people really want to do this? Would they really stick with it, week after week? Would they really be faithful, understanding that this daily prayer is important even if nobody else comes? But that was months ago. It has become part of them now.

The service is always the same, basically: psalms, readings, canticles, creed, prayers. There is a place for individual intentions, and we always pray for those in the parish who are ill and for those who have perished in the war. We always pray that the world will find the means of ending extreme poverty. I always pray softly for my family, one by one, and I always let the dead visit me, their dear faces coming into my mind with kindness, their remembered voices joining mine in responses that were ancient long before any of us were born. In you, Lord is our hope/And we shall never hope in vain.

The communion of the saints is a kind place. It is a world to which we are all connected at our best places, uniting us in the best love we have, a love from which we who remain here often sag away, but from which they never do. They wish us well and they do us good, seeing as they do that we are capable of better things than we often show forth. Who would not want to sit for twenty minutes in that restorative kindliness before a long work day begins, or after another hard one has ended?

It's such a privilege to do this, somebody at the picnic said about officiating at morning prayer. We all nodded, and thanked each other for bringing it about. Love hung in the dark like fireflies. This, I realized, was the heavenly banquet in the kingdom of God.

The talk drifted back to politics. And cats.
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