For Those We Love But See No Longer: Daily Offices for Times of Grief by Lisa Belcher Hamilton Venite: A Book of Daily Prayer by Robert Benson Celtic Benediction: Morning and Night by J. Philip Newell The Prymer: The Prayer Book of the Medieval Era Adapted for Contemporary Use, translated and adapted by Robert E. Webber
We call prayer at Taizé “common prayer,” not the “office,” which suggests a work obligation: “We do our office,” “We do what we ought to do.” That doesn’t correspond to the way we experience prayer in our lives. To say prayer is “common” is to say that it brings us together.
In one of the most famous sermons ever delivered, John Donne described the challenge of retaining concentration during prayer. The year was 1626. The occasion was the funeral sermon for Sir William Cockayne.
I was out of the country recently when a member of my congregation died. When this happens I feel the pain of being unable to do anything helpful, and a little guilt as well. That’s when I relearn a basic lesson in ecclesiology: I belong to a community of faith that knows how to be a church in my absence.
At my 20-week ultrasound appointment, my husband and I learned that the baby that we are expecting has a fatal birth defect. Sometime very early in his development something went drastically wrong. His skull never formed—the whole top and back part of it simply did not exist. We will probably never find a medical answer to why he developed this way.
This past Christmas, I wished for and received a chainsaw. On New Year’s Eve, while I was engaged in a woodworking project, the chainsaw slipped, grabbed my left sleeve, threw me to the ground, and in a matter of seconds dug into my arm, cutting my hand and wrist to the bone for about six inches. I began bleeding profusely.