July, 2002 |
Dear new and old friends,
Here I sit in my aerie. If I look out of the window from the 14th floor I see the green trees of Skinners Butte and, further away, blue mountains. Perhaps some of you would call them hills. One morning a white mist touched the their tops and wisps of the mist lay in the folds of the slopes below, reminding me of a Japanese print as I sit here in my Oregon home.
I am learning the bus routes and some day new friends, Marion and Bob Johnson, will guide me to a nearby park along the Willamette river. Daughter Ann is the bearer of heavy grocery bags and delivers me to the offices of physicians as we steel ourselves to yard sales.
For those of you who have known me for years, REJOICE! I sit here in quiet space making tiny embroidery stitches as I listen to KWAX, the University of Oregon's classical music station. No news, no loud commercials, just pleasant voices guiding me into the next composer's work. It is a glorious prayer time. It is centering prayer as I sit and pray for all of you and all those thereto attached.
Some of you know the 'atta' of my email address refers to 'and all those thereto attached'. The conception of this prayer occurred in a small group of young mothers in Saint Joseph's parish, Grand Junction, CO perhaps ten years ago. Karen Levad, who was the RCIA director at that time, asked me to facilitate two workshops for young mothers who were able to find two hours to meet and share stories.
One of the opportunities for prayer was demonstrated by a place setting near the candle I had lit, praying, "Wisdom, ATTEND, Mary, GUIDE, Holy Spirit, LEAD."as the two hours began.
At this place setting, there was a place mat and napkin from New Delhi, woven by a woman for a few coins. A brass bud vase from China held a rose. The water glass was surely one of thousands produced in a giant factory. The plate came from Spain. Fork, knife, spoon? Some miners had dug the ore; some steel workers had refined it; tool and die makers designed the mold after an anonymous artist had drawn the simple pattern.
If I had brought along food for such a breakfast there would have been another glass for the orange juice, a cup and saucer for the coffee, a plate for the egg and toast with butter and jam.
It takes my breath away to imagine how many people around the Earth had helped to prepare this place. The prayer was for each of the young mothers, for Karen, myself and all those thereto attached.
Beyond the daily lives of these young, busy, loving women were the husbands at work, sick children, mother-in-laws, the whole bank of human experience. The mother-in-laws, the corporations, the sick children were all a part of the prayer, for they were a part of those thereto attached.
But so to attached was the tired woman weaving in Rhagistan, the metalworker fashioning the vase of molten metal, the miners, the factory workers, the migrant workers in orange groves and those who picked the coffee beans or the tea leaves, the farmers who milked the cows to provide the cream, slashed the sugar cane, gathered the eggs and threshed the wheat. Perhaps the jam would have been made of Oregon raspberries, picked by Oregon workers.
It is breath taking to pray over one meal, one friend and all those thereto attached.
Sometimes I am asked to pray for a beloved with cancer. Such a prayer begins with the name of the person and then goes on to include all those thereto attached. It becomes awe-inspiring, and humbling at the same time, as I am reminded every time of how we are all connected. The prayer includes the beloved with the cancer, the physicians, nurses, aides, maintenance staff, the cleaning crew in the hospital to, far away, the researchers searching for cures, and back again, to the dispenser of morphine, the friends waiting for word.
When we pray the prayer, we truly hold the whole Earth and its peoples in our hearts as we raise our prayers to the Presence.
This July Letter may be read by Birget, Frank and Rod in Australia, Glen and Ken in England, Ulla and Ole in Finland, Bandana and Prem in India, Aline and Ross in Indonesia, Caesare and Mariu in Italy, Ann Damonte in Spain, Jacqueline and Dennis in The Netherlands, Dan Frendin in Sweden, Thalia and Ian in Wales as they are part of this reaching out.
And all those thereto attached