As I mentioned in a previous post I am reading the book Crossing and a few things have come to light. To give a bit more background, at first glance it would appear to be a book about the daily Offices [liturgy of the hours] and although they are a major feature of the book they’re are not the main focus. The focus is on the ‘circle’ of daily prayer as we work through each one of the five main Offices ~ Vigils, Lauds, Midday, Vespers and Compline ~ and the signposts that the meaning and rhythm of these offices can place on the map of our spiritual lives.
This routine circle of prayer is repeated daily in monastic life and also by many Catholics/Christians in secular society. Circles play a huge part in the rhythm of all our lives as we all perform similar things each day, week, month, year. The circles just get bigger depending on the time-frame. It is the same for those following a religious life, monastic or secular. From the tiny daily circle of prayer stretching right out to the huge circle of life and death. There is a certain reliability and comfort to be found in this continuous repetition but also the potential to become complacent, barely noticing or failing to engage fully with each event as it passes us by. It is an example of what Benedictines call Stability; to ‘dedicate oneself to a spiritual practice and stay with it. . . . only if we work at systematically following one path can the path take us anywhere‘ [Crossing pp26-27]. I think my Stability is part of what is lacking.
Vigils is the first Office of the day, usually prayed before dawn and I admit that this is not an office I pray often for that very reason. However, let’s focus less on my lazy prayer life and more on the signposts that Vigils will place of the map of my spiritual life. Vigils heralds the start of a new day, a clean slate as yet unsullied, a new opportunity, the beginning of a journey, a time of great Hope.
My spiritual journey has arrived at a Vigil’s moment, and as Mark Barrett points out, one begins a journey for a various reasons. To get to a new destination, to achieve a new goal or to go in search of something. However, it may just be because we’ve realised that we’re not where we need to be. This is me! I am not where I need to be spiritually speaking. It doesn’t mean I know where I’m going, but I know that I can’t stay here because there is a lack of meaning where I am right now. An emptiness, something missing, lacking. I feel it is really important to acknowledge that I’m in the wrong place spiritually at this point in time. Although this may seem rather negative I think that it’s a very positive place to begin as there can be no progress without accepting and identifying where I truly am right now. You can’t begin a journey if you’ve no idea where the ‘START’ is. Oh and remember to pack a large portion of Hope to keep you sustained on the way.