Praying the Hours (with an Infant)
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear…and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. -Ephesians 4:29; 5:2
A new rhythm has entered our household,
Time moving in cycles of nourishment and need.
New rituals guide our days-
Change the diapers
Bounce, sway, sing
Sleep when she sleeps.
We all wake when she wakes.
Her coos and cries a call to attention,
Our consistent chime,
An invitation to prayer.
We are like a family of monks
Keeping these sacred hours.
We are tired, but full of wonder,
Devotion to this new discipline
Stronger in us than the lure of sleep.
And discipline it is-
Prayer is not always ease.
It is practice. It reveals our attachments
(To a good night’s sleep among other things!)
And develops a patience we didn’t know was lacking,
Forms in us a love we cannot control.
Its aim is disruption and surrender.
Midnight, then 3 a.m., then 7-
We witness the movement of night
From deep dark to dim dawn,
Swaying through the silent house,
Finding every creak in the floor
As we try to soothe her back to sleep.
Rise and fall of her tiny chest
Release of her grasp around my finger-
A precious little life completely at rest.
She does not wonder if she is safe or loved.
This is the only world she knows-
These rhythms, sounds, sways, songs,
These arms that hold her with great care
And set her tenderly back in her crib
As we all return to sleep
Until again we hear her cry
Our constant chime,
Calling us to prayer
In these sacred hours.
“Attention is the beginning of devotion” (Mary Oliver).
Spend a few moments paying attention, wherever you are. Notice your surroundings. What draws your focus? Look more closely at detail and color. Notice what pulls or prods within you. How is the God-in-all-things speaking to you through what you see and feel right here, right now?
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.