I always underestimate the amount of time it takes to get back into the literal swing of things. Travel is such a whirling dance of its own that it always takes me a bit of time to change tunes and rhythm and enter back into the slower, but oh so beautiful song of home life. It has taken me all my growing up years of travel to get the hang of the re-entry process, of going from whirling dervish to quiet soul, but I’m finally learning to simply let the first couple of weeks slip by in gentleness. No desperate plunges back into schedule, no mad attempts at huge feats of thought or discipline, just gradual quieting of hours and spirit.
It helps to have a good book or two to aid the calming process and I’ve had two great literary companions to walk with me through these days. So I thought I would share them with you. I know I am greatly lacking in posts of late, but I can’t seem to pull my thoughts into coherency yet. So for now, I hope you’ll enjoy the thoughts of these other writers whose rich thought has so comforted me.
First is a novel. Let me just say that I find a good story to be one of the most comforting gifts in God’s good creation. Stories at their richest enter into our lives as we read them, companioning our thoughts, mirroring the joy, the struggle of our lives in the every day. The Hawk and the Dove is just such a book. It was actually given to me by a friend who so loved the story that she had a copy sent to me just for fun. I had put it in my “to read at a future date when I’m not so crazy” pile, but had another friend in England claim it as her favorite book in the world. So, on returning home and needing a good story to walk me through jet lag, I picked it up. And now it is my friend. It is a collection of tales told by a modern day mother to her daughter, all centering on the life of Father Peregrine, Abbot of St. Alcuin’s Monastery in the 13th century. These are quiet stories, tales of the soul as they probe the inner lives and thoughts of the monks who have promised to give their lives to love of Christ. There is drama to be sure, but each struggle and excitement ends in the “Great Silence” of the monastery at night, when the characters enter deep into the territory of soul. Each story is mirrored in the life of the modern day girl to whom they are told, and also, in mine. The stories stick with me, catch at my thought and conviction. They bring me joy. They remind me why loving God really is the root of all life.
The second book is one I have used for several years called simply Celtic Daily Prayer. (Written and compiled by the Northumbria Community.) It is a much-simplified version of the daily prayer practiced in many more liturgical traditions. In the past couple of years, I have discovered a grace in the liturgy and fixed-hour prayer of the Anglican tradition. While not replacing a more personal form of prayer, these common, daily prayers have helped me to set a rhythm of sacred thought. Morning and evening (when I can manage it) I come just for a few minutes and however distracted I am, I can center my mind on the words of the liturgy before me. A mix of Scripture and old Celtic blessings, the prayers can be said quickly if needed. There are daily readings of Scripture and short contemplations to accompany them. Sometimes I linger, sometimes I rush through. But I find that they help me to return to a rhythm of life in God, of waking up to praise, and kneeling before sleep to bless my God.
So there you have it; my remedy for re-entry into the steady dance of home life. Combine that with a steady procession of hot cups of tea, daily strolls in fresh air and meals with the family and the re-entry process should be quite easy. A return to rhythm is always a good thing. Happy summer day my friends.