Sr. Grace Kowalski, OSB, of St. Benedict`s Monastery in Winnipeg, Manitoba, introduced me to lectio divina prayer many years ago. She was always extolling its simple method, its personal dialogue with God, and the need for a regular, daily practise. An excellent teacher, her enthusiasm and passion was contagious. I quickly fell in love with this prayer form. But, discipline and I are pathetic partners. As with Lenten penances, I start out with good intentions but my energy fizzles a short distance from the start line.
But Grace had an idea. Why don`t we share our daily lectio reflections and prayers via email? I was intrigued. I was already using the computer for studies and communicating around the world. I knew the power of the internet for sharing ideas and forming friendships. Why not use it for sharing prayer?
And so it began. Grace sent an email with a simple line or phrase from the daily readings. Sometimes she explained her reflection in a sentence or two. And then she shared a prayer. This was simple. I could do this! The daily prayer sharing began. Our styles were different. Too often, I rambled on at length. Grace had a poet`s heart and economy of words. She loved the Psalms, and her prayer often focused on a single word or image. In a few lines, she unpacked the ordinary and showed the deep wisdom within.
I slowly began settling into the daily routine. I likened it to having a jogging partner. If you run by yourself, it`s easy to roll over in bed and grab a few extra winks. One missed day turns into another. And, before you know it the discipline is lost. But, if you know that a friend is waiting at the door with her sneakers on, there`s an extra incentive to get up and going. I knew that when I turned on my computer, Grace`s email would be the first message in my inbox. And, I better have a prayer to respond with!
Grace died almost two years ago. I still miss her terribly. For many weeks, I dreaded turning on my computer – knowing that her daily emails were no longer coming. Yet, I know that her prayers continue. I was asked to prepare the Intercessory Prayers for her funeral. I didn`t know how I could do this -so, I didn`t. I let Grace pray for us. I went back to the computer and collected some of her prayers, and together we prayed her words…simple words that soared from a listening heart.
(tomorrow – lectio divina – a dialogue in community)