Each week in Lent we have been having a special Vespers prayer service or service of evening prayer. The form of that prayer is from a different tradition or place each week. This is an attempt o open our minds to the many and varied ways the people of God pray. It has been a treat to officiate at those liturgies as they have all been moments of great grace and in each and every case I have felt a great sense of peace and a real sense that God is at work in what we are doing. It is good from time to time to step out of our comfort zone and pray in a manner different than we are used to.

 

In any event, Yesterday was our day. This time I used a number of prayers and litanies from the African American Liberation movement. The spirituality of the civil rights era is wonderful. A big part of each week’s prayer service is images and in this case we used two icons as our focal point. One was of Martin Luther King of Georgia and the other is called Jesus of the people. They are each works of Robert Lentz who is a Franciscan who paints wonderful and contemporary images of the holy and sacred. His heritage is Russian so I guess it is natural that he has an interest in iconography. The images I used can be found at the end of this blog.

 

The other big part of the worship experience is a reflection that is each week based on a contemporary piece of music that we listen to on CD. This week we heard a great piece entitled Shall Not Walk Alone, written and sung by Ben Harper with The Blind Boys of Alabama. ( Visit http://blindboys.com) It is a haunting and wonderful piece. I was immediately moved by it as I think the words and assurance meant a lot to me. These verses in particular were very close to my heart:

 

hope is alive
while we’re apart
only tears
speak from my heart
break the chains
that hold us down
and we shall be
forever bound

when I’m tired and weary
and a long way from home
I reach for mother Mary
and I shall not walk alone

beauty that
we left behind
how shall we
tomorrow find

set aside
our weight in sin
so that we
can live again

It is not always easy living away from my paternal family. I am sure that some of you are aware of the struggles that I have had of late. There are days when my mind drifts with great regularity to “beauty that we left behind” and wonder “how shall we tomorrow find.”

 

When I first listened to this last week and I heard the words “hope is alive while we’re apart only tears speak from my heart. Break the chains that hold us down and we shall be forever bound,” I wept. I sometimes feel homesick. That feeling is more intense when I am alone as I have been this past little bit with Catherinanne on course. There are those who are hurting and what really makes me sick for Newfoundland right now is concern for those I love.

 

As we prayed yesterday I was given great comfort. I felt a great sense that God walks with me as I walk with others from a distance. I do not walk alone. Those of my family who are having some tough days do not walk alone. All who are in despair – we do not walk alone.

 

If Lent is nothing else it is a journey. On that journey we have companions and those companions bear the light of the Divine. If you get a chance pick up the CD. It is called Holy Ground by The Blind Boys of Alabama. Each track is uplifting and inspiring. We should all be reminded from time to time that we need to be set free. This music has a great capacity to do just that – set us free.