She must learn again to speak
starting with I
starting with We
starting as the infant does
with her own true hunger
and pleasure
and rage.

-- Marge Piercy

Exprayeriment #21 -- Praying the Hours: Vespers

You made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to set.
You send the darkness, and it becomes night.

Psalm 104:19-20 

We didn't plan it this way (truly, we are not that organized), but our exploration of Vespers could not have come at a more perfect time of year.

With the fading light of day, Vespers invites us to turn away from work and practical matters and toward home and matters of heart and spirit.  At this twilight hour it seems as if heaven and earth meet as the veil between worlds becomes more transparent.  In the Celtic Christian tradition, this time is referred to as a "thin place."

These thin places are also hallmarks of the various celebrations of the season, including Halloween, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, Samhain, and Dia de los Muertos.  Across cultures and traditions, this is a time of year for honoring and communing with the departed, for quieting down and embracing the darkness until the return of the light.

One of many beautiful aspects of praying the hours is that we begin to recognize how the themes of each hour parallel the seasons of the year and, beyond that, the seasons of our lives. Honoring these rhythms and cycles means learning and re-learning to let go what goes and to welcome with open arms what comes next.  When we pray the hours we are offered opportunities to practice embracing change and transition daily on a small scale so that, with time, we become better able to handle and appreciate the inevitable, more significant life changes.

For this week's Exprayeriment, take a few minutes at the Vespers hour to feel what happens when you bring awareness to being on the threshold between the earthly and the divine, the light and the dark, life and death.  John of the Cross says, "In the evening of life we shall be judged by love."  Consider how well you have loved today.  Through the thinning veil between worlds, let yourself experience the love of those who have gone before you -- your ancestors, specific saints who inspire you, and the entire cloud of witnesses available to guide and support you at all times.

Remembering the dead is choosing their ongoing companionship. -Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

We invite you to share the names of ancestors, saints and others who have been part of your spiritual unfolding so that we can all support one another as we hold them in prayer.  

As for the video, we'll let Billy Collins speak for himself.  :-)

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