Calm: Our Own, Our Ancestors

So often one fruit of prayer seems to be a steady calm, a silence, under everything else.  That “everything else” might not be calm, but something in us can be.

Psalm 1.2-3:  “Happiness comes to those who delight in the Law of YHWH, who meditate on it day and night.  They’re like trees planted by flowing water–they bear fruit in every season, and their leaves never wither; everything they do will prosper.”

That last line–“everything they do will prosper”–does not ring true if prosperity means that everything turns out well, or as we’d like.  But it does seem that the more we can live from the place we are listening for during Advent, the more we can bend–like a well-rooted tree–to meet most any wind.

Perhaps it is only because I held a three-and-a-half-month old child today for a long time while her mother ate and chatted with others at a women and wine gathering, but tonight I am thinking of how walking with trust is like having–if not always hearing–a quiet heartbeat under each activity we do in a day.   Meditating upon God’s Word day and night does not mean we focus directly upon it at all times, but that we are aware of its casting towards us obliquely at all times.

Sometimes I think about my ancestors, the ones from long ago, about whose lives I know nothing other than that most of them were peasant farmers in Finland and in Slovenia.  I feel their presence sometimes, at least the lives of the women, when I am cooking.  Cutting onions and other vegetables seems to make those ancestors pleased–as if I’m finally doing something in my day to which they can relate.  And I think of how many generations of women have had opportunity to meditate while cooking or doing other repetitive, burdensome chores.  Did prayers and poems arise in them, too, as they did physical activity outdoors, or something quiet indoors?

Does the calm cultivated in prayer of our ancestors travel to our present lives to help carry them today?  Do our prayers cultivate inner calm not only for ourselves, but for those who are are descendants (spiritually, if not physically)?

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