Saturday, June 24, 2017

Where prayer has been valid

If you came by day not knowing what you came for, 
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for 
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfillment. There are some places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws, 
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city--
But this is the nearest, in place and time, 
Now and in England. --T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

One of the highlights of this trip was traveling to Little Gidding en route to Cambridge with Sam and Neil.

Little Gidding is a very, very small chapel in a very, very small hamlet in southern England. It was part of the inspiration for the last part of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. All of us (Sam, Neil, and I) love "Little Gidding" and Eliot's words for similar and different reasons. So to have a small moment to pray in that tiny chapel and silently read Eliot's words in complete stillness (except for the buzz of junebugs) was very special to me.

You are not here to verify, 
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel 
Where prayer has been valid. 

I love that concept--the idea of places where "prayer has been valid." I don't have the time or energy to write my entire series of thoughts on this idea. I'm still thinking and developing that idea. But that idea has run through my head and heart this trip--"you are here to kneel//where prayer has been valid." And I have thought about places where prayer has been valid and efficacious in my life. Times when I really prayed. Times when I really meant it. In my childhood bed. In a small corner flat in Cambridge, England. In a dirty kitchen floor in Donetsk, Ukraine. On the cigarette butt-littered streets of that same country. Kneeling by my bed in Oxford. On a balcony in Provo, Utah. In the canyons of the Rocky Mountains.

And it is a beautiful experience to go back to where prayer has been valid--both for myself and other people. In chapels, on rivers, in homes.

Like I said. Still have a lot of thoughts percolating about this subject. And sometimes it's just better to get some thoughts out than none at all. So there's a taster. 

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