Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Elken Liturgy

Philip Yancey writes about his attempts to meet God in prayer while on a rustic prayer retreat and my goodness, how these people so need good liturgy!
To my great fortune, a herd of 147 elk (I had plenty of time to count them) wandered into the very field where I was sitting. To see one elk is exciting; to watch 147 elk in their natural habitat is enthralling. But I soon learned that to watch 147 elk for two hours is, to put it mildly, boring. They lowered their heads and chewed grass. They raised their heads in unison and looked at a raspy crow. They lowered their heads again and chewed grass. For two hours, nothing else happened. No mountain lions attacked; no bulls charged each other. All the elk bent over and chewed grass.

After a while, the very placidity of the scene began to affect me. The elk had not noticed my presence, and I simply melded into their environment, taking on their rhythms. I no longer thought about the work I had left at home, the deadlines facing me, the reading that Brennan had assigned. My body relaxed. In the leaden silence, my mind fell quiet.
All the reactions Yancey describes in his Natural Geographic moment with the elk are represented in the Sacred Liturgy. It's just sad he had to learn it from hoofed beasts rather than from Mother Church.