I confess some bad days in pandemic-land. I’ve spent over thirty years tending to the worship life of my parish–forty if I count my experiences in college and young adulthood before I entered full-time service. The one Mass per week at which I now serve seems an impoverishment: no parish singing (unless they are doing so at home), no human associations before and after worship, no rehearsals, hardly as much preparation effort. (Most of my joy in being a church musician is collaboration with others.)
Working from home last week was hardly productive. I’m trying to assemble web content: a little music, a lot of Bible Study. It works better when I’m in the mostly-abandoned parish office. Afternoons and weekends, I’m usually the only one there. I felt a pang going in last Saturday–I think it’s important to treat the directives/orders from my archbishop and governor seriously. But aside from spraying mouth mist in my car and my office, my germs are not spread, and I receive nothing from any living person.
Still, yesterday was a long slog through preparing a Way of the Cross for the parish website. After narrating Scripture and prayers I found I had little enough voice left to sing. Or to sing well. In normal times, I’d be assembling this project in January. I’d be getting a handful of my best parish singers to contribute. And a narrator with a better speaking voice than mine. As I drove home with just two of the stations complete, I was thinking how relatively poor the effort was turning out. I’d rather be the idea guy and get other people to execute the plan.
I confess I’ve been going to bed earlier each night. Waking earlier too. I’ve begun praying the Psalms with lectio divina, from the start of the book through in order. I’ve certainly dropped in on the Psalter from time to time. But I’ve never made an effort to pray the whole thing. Many years ago, a mentor suggested a daily lectio practice: choosing one Biblical book and praying through it, seven to twelve verses at a time. I’ve hit up about a fifth of the Bible that way. Last week, it occurred to me to go with what I know. The Psalms have always worked for me. Or rather, they work on me.
This week I’ve dodged back and forth between the ICEL Psalter from the 90s and the NRSV on my wife’s kindle. I lean to the latter these days.
Though this morning that cry for help (and demand of God) to “keep faith!” still rang in my head.
My experience in the spiritual life informs my future course. The Psalms are a good path; I’ll stick to them through the 150th. Working from home or driving to my office: I can do either as the mood or need suits. With Lent I’ve added two spiritual practices, and so far each is working well. So I will let them sink in while I ponder a next step. Maybe Compline before I go to bed as I do my daily Examen.
Here and on another social media platform I was preaching the vitality to be found in daily rhythms of faith. I can’t very well practice what I don’t preach, can I?
And good practices out there from you readers?