by Cheryl Ann Smith.
My morning prayer was a bit longer than usual today. It began as I gradually awoke to brilliant sunshine streaming through my window before 5 a.m.
The sun rises very early in northern England in June. Since it was too early to arise, I decided to luxuriate in bed for a while.
Obviously my neighbours had been up for a while, as there was quite a conversation going on between the lambs and ewes in the field next to us. Even the dappled horse threw in his two cents. If I had entertained any thoughts of falling back asleep, one of the little lambs took care of that with a piercing bleat.
Through these months in England, I’ve come to recognize the various lamb cries. Sometimes it’s just a bleat to say, "I’m here!" Sometimes it’s a more insistent wail of hunger, and occasionally it’s a cry of sheer panic when the lamb can’t find his mother.
What was it with this lamb? Probably a call to be fed, as he was now quiet.
What a glory these little lambs are! For the first month of their lives, they are blindingly white, looking almost surreal, or perhaps looking like Jesus’ clothing at the Transfiguration.
As soon as they are big enough, they scramble on to their mothers’ backs, and just sit on their throne, smiling serenely upon the world. It’s true: it’s exactly what they look like!
In the spring, they cover the hillsides of England, springing straight up into the air, gambolling about the fields, bringing such joy to us all. Thank you, Lord for these marvellous creatures.
All was quiet then, and I was tempted to try to drift off to sleep, but an English blackbird began his morning hymn, which was surely an echo of the heavenly choir. I wonder how many different kinds of singing can possibly be packed into one birdsong. Trills, warbles, tweets in all different patterns and themes.
On and on he serenaded me from right outside my open window. How can anyone not believe in God after hearing a blackbird sing? No mere mortal could create a bird with such divine melodies, let alone a world teeming with all different birds and calls. Lord, I praise you for the extravagant beauty you pour into your creation.
I couldn’t resist peeking out the window to watch my balladeer, but his "work" of rousing me was now complete, and off he flew. So I stood by the window, drank in the warm rays of the sun, and listened to the cooing of the doves from the roof.
Suddenly, I was transported back to the Mount of the Beatitudes, where my senses had once been filled with cooing of doves, the radiant prodigality of flowers, and the sweetness of the Lord. That then propelled me to our own garden.
Well, another catalyst was Fred the pheasant insistently honking for his breakfast. Amazing that such a brilliant, regal bird can make such a cacophonous racket! But it’s effective, I must admit. He gets his breakfast…and lunch…and tea.
On the way to the garden, I passed the chapel, and popped my head in to greet the Lord, but on this leisurely Sunday morning, he was drawing me outside.
I couldn’t help but think of that first "Sunday", the day of the Resurrection, the day we now call Easter Sunday, when Our Lord awaited Mary Magdalene in the garden. What a joyous reunion of tender, intimate love that must have been!
Well, today is Pentecost. As if to illustrate the tongues of fire that fell that day, our flaming red poppies waved and danced in the breeze. And the incomparable English roses of every conceivable color and hue proclaimed the intimacy of Love made possible by the Spirit.
Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. For see, winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The season of glad songs has come; the cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Show me your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful (Song of Songs 2:10-14)
My Beloved is mine and I am His (Song of Songs 2:16).
O Lord, let me rest in this union. Let me live always in your heart. I seek your Face and your voice, and you have given me both in the beauty of birdsong and roses and the stillness of Love.
So that was my morning prayer today, not in our chapel, but in the temple of God’s creation.
But, of course, such experiences do not last forever. By the end of the morning, the cool damp clouds moved in as they usually do, and the everyday crosses of life reappeared, as they do.
But it’s all of a piece really, from Lent to Passion to Easter to Pentecost and back to Ordinary Time, from night to day, and back again. Lord, I thank you for all.
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