By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
When your willingness to live in sacred community as Christ’s new creation exceeds your natural fear of spiritual and relational transformation, you will become who you are called to be. The rise of Zion the beautiful, the peaceful reign of Christ, awaits your whole-hearted response to the call to make and steadfastly hold to God’s covenant of peace in Jesus Christ. -Doctrine and Covenants 164:9b
My father-in-law has his chair where he watches his favorite TV shows, reads, answers e-mails, and, most importantly, rocks babies to sleep. I have watched my nieces and nephews drift to sleep as he holds them in his arms and rocks back and forth, soothing and comforting. They seem to melt into his chest as he smiles in adoration at their deep breaths and closed eyes. He knows that this is the most important place to be. Sometimes with tears in his eyes, he will express in a soft voice how sacred, how significant, what a privilege it is to love a child into the safety of sleep.
Often, as it is with a large family, all sorts of activities are happening around him-older cousins laughing and yelling, pots and pans clanging in the kitchen, dogs barking, and passionate conversations transpiring among his adult children. But when I watch him rocking his grandchildren, a slowing of time is nearly visible, a liminal space opening, a glow of peacefulness surrounding them. My heart overflows knowing that he could never describe the depth of the love he feels welling up within him right before our eyes. It is an image of nurturing that touches something deep in my own soul.
Ordinary Time in the life of faith is about this sacred slowing. It holds out invitations to linger in what is most essential about this life. It may be holding a sleeping child or sitting outside to enjoy the beauty of creation. It could be the discipline of preparing a good meal or the giving of time to an important conversation. In the busyness, we often miss these invitations to step inside what gives us life for a time and dwell in the fulfillment it brings.
I noticed this the other night as I was rushing through washing the dishes. When I became fully present to what I was doing, suddenly obligation gave way to gratitude for a good meal, indoor plumbing, clean water, and the way the Holy surprised me with Presence even here.
This is the time for noticing, for savoring, for slowing, for letting the hours lengthen as we engage in the daily tasks of love.
“Awake, my soul!” (Psalm 57:8 NRSV)
The Prayer of the Heart
Early Christian disciples desired to take seriously the scripture mandate to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the heart invites us to pray “continuously” by repeating and returning to a prayer phrase planted for intentional reflection and deepening. Choose a word or phrase (from scripture, hymnody, or personal reflection) that has meaning for you. The Jesus Prayer is one form of the prayer of the heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:35-43). Invite this simple phrase to repeat in your heart throughout the day, awakening your soul to God’s presence.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.