Prayer and the Play of Light

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From board member The Rev. Edward M. Cardoza

The days between spring and summer always seem to be a challenge for me in prayer.   I find myself wanting to be outside after having been cooped up all winter—sadly though not every day allows for this!  This winter seems to have presented more cold wintery days after the spring equinox, than before it.  So I have found myself finding that room in my house or that corner in my place of prayer that gets the most light.  I have begun setting up my morning or evening meditation in each of these spots with a bit more intentionality—choosing a time each day, and doing my best to show up.

At home, this special place is a tiny East facing window.  In the morning light, the window comes alive with pinks, blues and vibrant bursts of orange.  I’ve used this powerful display of nature’s making to pray with the play of light.  As the light changes in intensity and color—I pull myself closer into silence and awe.  Any moment–where I find myself distracted or being pulled into the busyness of the day before me—I return to the light outside.  I ask for grounding, for peace and for deep silence to surround me.  I remind myself of the prayer by John O’Donohue entitled “Morning Offering” in which he prays:

I place on the altar of dawn:

The quiet loyalty of breath,

The tent of thought where I shelter,

Wave of desire I am shore to

And all beauty drawn to the eye.

At my place of ministry, this special place is a West facing set of stained glass windows.  The light panels have vibrant colors and modern cut glass—with a light purple background.  I’ve found the perfect corner—and perfectly worn chair—that seems to hold my body without an ounce of discomfort.  The play of light in the evening is softer—perhaps even quieter and somber.  I ask for reflection, for forgiveness and for clarity.  It’s my own version of an Ignatian Examen—an opportunity to bring to prayer the challenges, hardships, joys and worries of the day.  A chance to voice what went well and what didn’t.

It’s a grace to mark the start and the end of the day like this.  When our light shifts—and gives us longer days—it only seems to make sense to immerse ourselves in its playfulness.   In drawing near, I always find something old spoken again or something new emerging from within.  In a few weeks, I will be outside—until then, I am becoming okay with this new approach to prayer.