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HOME AWAY FROM HOME
November 1, 2004
 
No email -- my laptop wouldn't work on the convent's phone lines. No "Let Us Bless the Lord" and no eMo for three days. It was strange and disquieting not to be sending these things out through the ether, and I found myself itching for the keyboard as we neared home. They have long since become part of my own spiritual practice, and I am always disoriented by their absence.

Holy habit is helpful -- it conditions us to do what we wish to do daily, teaches us to become who we wish to be, bit by bit. It makes prayer part of our very bodies, signalling its gentle demands through the use of our senses: my chair, my candle, the feel of my book in my hand, my sense of the time of day -- all these remind me to pray and make me want to begin.

But everyone's routine is disrupted sometimes. Sometimes I am deprived of the familiar signals - I travel a great deal, and must pray in a new place, a new chair, do without my candle. Some of the prayers I am accustomed to saying in private are said corporately on a trip, me and a hundred other people saying together what I am used to saying in the silence of my tiny office. Those are stretch times, times to use new muscles, time to shake things up a little. It can be hard to embrace those opportunities -- we tend toward conservatism in our spiritual practice, want things to be the same comfortable way they have always been.

But nothing stays the same as it has always been. Even my prayer happens in history, and history is a parade of change. Stretch. Acquire a new way of praying now and then, something outside the box of your usual practice. Don't judge it too harshly at the beginning: some of your disapproval may only be nostalgia. Prepare for change by changing on your own sometimes. Don't be afraid of losing your original love in prayer; you can keep it for as long as you love it. You can always go home again. But stretch, let yourself grow flexible, and you will feel at home everywhere you go.

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Listen to Audio eMos at http://www.geraniumfarm.org/ and hear the new voice of the eMos, Buddy Stallings, Episcopal priest and transplanted Mississippian serving in Staten Island, the garden spot of the Big Apple.
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