Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Prayers Under the Floorboard

(pictured is my grandmother's "prayer in color")

Jan L. Richardson writes of a Cistercian monastery in Lower Saxony, Germany. A team restoring the sanctuary ran across a treasury of prayer underneath the bulding. It held a number of objects including old eyeglasses and thimbles, but also held the prayerbooks of nuns from some 500 years ago. Each was distinctive to the woman who used it, created for personal prayer outside the formal liturgies of the hours. It traced the spiritual longings of women seeking Christ in the midst of the religious turmoil of the Protestant Reformation. These prayer books that emerged from beneath the floorboards offer a unique glimpse into the hearts of those that used them.

I wonder, what is underneath the floorboard in hidden places in your life? What prayerfulness of the past could give you power for the present? I, too, believe there are prayers that run through our blood and through our ancestral memory. In a very real sense, the essence of spirituality is uncovering our prayer life rather than coming up with one.

This picture of light was found in the papers of my grandmother, Louie Ann Williams Hamby, who died when I was 6 years old. It accompanied some of her prayer notes during what must have been the darkest time in her life. It is nice to see that "praying in color" is not a new idea. I will post reflections on the accompanying notes later.

For now, I meet God as I gaze at what was found "under the floorboard."