“It is bad enough to cope with illness or worry during the day, but at night the hurts just seem to intensify as the darkness grows. Which is why I am inviting everyone to join me in the practice of vespers. Monks and nuns from many traditions keep regular hours of prayer. They sanctify day and night. Vespers is an evening prayer, a time to make the darkening hours holy. As night comes, let us pray for all those who will need help getting through it. Let our vesper prayer be a light for them to see.” Steven Charleston, Facebook page, September 25, 2018
Serendipity can become a sign for us to listen more intently about what is going on in our lives. A call to evening prayer has been a message in my life recently from many avenues. It is beginning to get my attention. Morning prayer has become more of a routine most of my life, but I usually do not remember to say evening prayers until I am almost asleep, and they mostly consist of a brief review of the day with a few sprinkles of gratitude thrown in for good measure.
The rector of our church, Danny Schieffler, has asked our new Daughters of the King chapter to be more present at evening prayer on week days at our church. Our Community of Hope Retreat leader, Brother Michael Gallagher, OSB, almost the next day reminded us of having regular evening prayers as well as morning prayers. We are having a program at our church by Tom Elliott on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. The next day he talked about the evening examin and how important it is in following this tradition. This morning I hear from Bishop Steven Charleston about night time prayers, especially for ourselves and others who need to be reminded of the presence of the Love of God when the world becomes dark.
My favorite evening prayers before bedtime are the prayers of Compline (Book of Common Prayer, BCP, p. 127). Many years ago, friends came to our house or we went to theirs to say this brief service together. How did we fit that time into our day? Were we less busy or more intentional?
My experience is that night can be more frightening for those we are alone and those in any kind of pain. The stimuli of the day that keep us living our lives outward slow down as darkness silently creeps in. At evening we feel the pull of the less familiar inward life. We do not know our paths on the inner life and easily can be frightened, but saying night prayers with others for a while can remind us of Love’s continued presence with us and within us.
“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield to joyous; and all for your love’s sake.” BCP, p. 134.