"I feel I'm on the verge of some great truth. When I'm finally in my place. But I'm fumbling still for proof and it's cluttering my space, casting shadows on my face. And though I have the strength to move a hill, I can hardly leave my room. So I'll sit perfectly still and I'll listen for a tune." - Alexi Murdoch.
Life is a journey of seeking after truth. And truth, as sad as it is to say has become ghastly relative through the generations of broken voyagers. We want truth, we crave it. But only the sweet part. If it is hard we cast it aside. If it is inconvenient we dismiss it entirely. And if it asks anything of us, we go in search of option B. Alexi Murdoch puts it beautifully in his song 'Wait'. What is it to be in our place? For this place is the center of truth, and this truth demands that we sit perfectly still and listen, for its tune. The art of stillness and listening was not first practiced by the hands of songwriter Alexi Murdoch, rather it is an ancient tradition that has been practiced through the centuries of pilgrims looking for not just "some" great truth, but "the" great truth.
"The monastic life is, above all, a life of prayer." - Thomas Merton
I have a daydream to study under the spiritual directors in early European Monasteries. I long to embark upon my own pilgrimage in search of the stillness and listening methods that our desert fathers and mothers have been boldly and steadfastly exercising for years. The monastic life consists of four unshakeable pillars that hold together their quiet ways of living. The pillars are that of Prayer, Community, Work and Rest and it is the first that binds everything else together. I have a confession. I desperately need the grace of Christ to help me live as an intercessor. It's a clumsy journey that I cannot seem to manage with any level of consistancy and yet there quietly breathes a desire for the spiritual intimacy that comes from prayer.
As Christians prayer seems to be the first sacrament we toss in the trash like a filthy rag. Nobody wants to draw the "intercession" vocation card in their game of life. It is a 'job' that carries no amount of glamour, attention, success or fame. It is a lifestly that goes unnoticed, that is why we bury that card underneath the more attractive ones. Why do we do this? Because, as Donald Miller so creatively put it; 'Everybody wants to be somebody fancy'. So we claw our way into the pile of possiblities and clutch to the roles that guarentee the spotlight, roles that will don us with flashy costumes and make others jealous of our amazingness. And yet, prayer is countlessly highlighted througout scripture. The apostle Paul is one of the greatest intercessors I've known (not personally of course, but from what I've read at least.)
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." - Colossians 4:2
I have seen the ways life unravels when it is not tightly knitted together with prayer. If you look through the Pauline letters I encourage you to take notice of the frequency in which his prayer life is mentioned. Repeatedly Paul opens his letters with, "I have been praying for you... In all my prayers for you... We always thank God when we pray for you... We have not stopped praying for you... Devote yourselves to prayer... " And he humbly signs them asking that the church be in prayer for him as he continues his mission of spreading the truth of Christ.
Paul was first and foremost an intercessor. He drew this vocation card with joy and invites us to do the same. Had not Jesus interceded on Peter's, his faith would have miserably failed. Often times Jesus withdrew from the crowds in order that he may sit perfectly still and listen for the tune of his Father. The monastic communities set aside times during each day for communal and private prayer.