Living Well

Morning Prayer

morning prayerOver many years, I have developed the practice of beginning my day in my prayer room. I make a pot of tea, light several candles, and enter into a time of quiet reflection. Sometimes I read professional journals, sometimes I write in my own journal, sometimes I wiggle and struggle to stay open and quiet, trying to stay present to God and to prayer. In recent weeks, I have felt pulled to checking Facebook or text messages, writing my list of to-do’s for the day, and sometimes my husband joins me for quiet conversation.

Today, I woke up early – glad for the half-light of not-quite-daytime – and sat down on my cushions in my prayer room to begin the day. I became aware of a restlessness, and decided to sit with it to see if I could discover what was unsettled within. I looked out the windows to the view I know so well and began to sense a longing simply for God – no reading journals, no electronic checking, no writing. I found myself desiring a return to old practices . . . practices put away months ago in favor of other things. So I went to my bookshelf, pulled out my Bible and my tattered and worn copy of Celtic Daily Prayer, and turned to the Scripture passages and reading for today – February 27. As God would have it, today’s reading is one I have loved and been drawn to for a long time. I had forgotten all about it. As I opened to this reading and this practice, I found myself feeling so deeply grateful for the restless pull that brought me back . . . to a deep sense of home. I’ll share the reading with you and pray for a holy restlessness that brings you to your deep home as well.

I Stand By the Door

I stand by the door.

I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,

The door is the most important door in the world –

it is the door through which folk walk when they find God.

There’s no use my going way inside and staying there,

when so many are still outside, and they, as much as I,

crave to know where the door is.


And all that many ever find

is only the wall where a door ought to be.

They creep along the wall like blind men,

with outstretched, groping hands,

feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,


Yet they never find it . . .

so I stand by the door.


The most tremendous thing in the world

is for people to find that door – the door to God.

The most important thing anyone can do

is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,

and put it on the latch – the latch that only clicks

and opens to that person’s touch.

People die outside that door, as starving beggars die

on cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter –

die for want of what is within their grasp.

Others live, on the other side of it – live

because they have found it,

and open it, and walk in, and find [Him] . . .

So I stand by the door.


Go in, great saints, go all the way in –

go way down into the cavernous cellars,

away up into the spacious attics –

it is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.

Go into the deepest of hidden casements

of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.

Some must inhabit those inner rooms,

and know the depth and heights of God,

and call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.

Sometimes I take a deeper look in,

sometimes venture in a little farther;

but my place seems closer to the opening . . .

So I stand by the door.


There is another reason I stand there.

Some people get part way in and become afraid

lest God and the zeal of [His] house devour them;

for God is so very great, and asks all of us;

and these people way inside only terrify them more.

Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled

for the old life, they have seen too much:

once taste God, and nothing but God will do any more.

Somebody must be watching for the frightened

who seek to sneak out just where they came in,

to tell them how much better it is in inside.


The people too far in do not see how near these are

to leaving – preoccupied with the wonder of it all.

Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,

but would like to run away.

So for them, too, I stand by the door.


I admire the people who go way in.

But I wish they would not forget how it was

before they got in. Then they would be able to help

the people who have not yet even found the door,

or the people who want to run away again from God.

You can go in too deeply, and stay in too long,

and forget the people outside the door.


As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,

near enough to God to hear [Him], and know [He] is there,

but not so far from others as not to hear them,

and remember they are there, too.


Where? Outside the door –

thousands of them, millions of them.

But – more important for me –

one of them, two of them, ten of them,

whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.

So I shall stand by the door and wait

for those who seek it.

‘I had rather be a door-keeper . . . ‘

So I stand by the door.

~Samuel Moor Shoemaker


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