On the first steps of my spiritual journey, I thought how very nice it would be to live in a monastery. There, I would be officially called to prayer by the ringing of bells for the chanting of the canonical hours. Here at home, on the other hand, I’m constantly interrupted and distracted. The only bells I hear are from the telephone or my oven timer — not to mention the ongoing clanging of tinnitus in my ears!
In response to this situation, my spiritual director reminded me of Thérèse of Lisieux and introduced me to Brother Lawrence and Jean-Pierre de Caussade. These three holy persons taught that, because God is everywhere, prayer can be offered everywhere and any time. With the intention and desire to meet God more frequently, God can be loved in everything we do. With practice, I was given to understand this principle.
Remember the old Latin prayer recited by the priest as he began Mass? I will go to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth! I adapted this prayer to fit the ordinary practices of my day.
I will go to the altar of my laptop
As I compose this prayer.
I will go to the altar of my piano,
Where I touch the soul of Beethoven.
I will go to the altar of the sidewalk
That leads me to my neighbor.
I will go to the altar of my phone
As I call or respond to a friend.
I will go to the altar in my kitchen,
As I prepare what God provides.
I will go to the altar of my appliances
That make light work of my chores.
I will go to the altar of my books
That bring food to my spirit.
I will go to the altar in my prayer corner
Where I find the grace to surrender …