Saturday, November 12, 2011

"And With Our Brothers, Who Are Away"

On my first visit to a monastery, I attended every service except for the ones at 3:10 a.m.  I loved the way that the Psalms and the rhythms settled into my brain, pulsed through my blood, seeped into my very bones.  I noticed that we prayed for God's help and protection to be with us, and "with our brothers, who are away."

It took me a few prayers to notice that pattern, and a bit of time to figure out what the language meant.  I thought at first we prayed for travelling monks, and that may be the case.  Monks do need to go out into the world, to do something simple, like grocery shopping, or to for more complex reasons, like travelling to meet with a book publisher, for example.

There are also darker reasons why a monk can't be in the chapel praying with the others:  sickness and death.

I love the idea of a community that extends beyond the group that's gathered.  It's an idea that speaks to us as human mammals on a deep level.

I was reminded of that longing the other night, when we took dinner to First Lutheran to feed the group that gathers there, predominantly homeless and predominantly male.  I'm often the one who prays as we gather.  It's a prayer to bless the food and to ask for safety as we head back out into the night.

About a year ago, one of the men asked me if I would please pray for the people who couldn't be there with us.  Of course I was happy to do so.  And I continue to be grateful for that request.  It's good to pray for those who can't be with us, for whatever reason.

So, today I'll pray for all of us, that God be with my brothers and sisters, who are away.

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