On Mother’s Day, one of my children asked, “What’s something you like, Mom?”
“Ummm… I don’t know. I like you, ” I said. “I like my family.”
I kept thinking and started rattling things off. “I like pens. And I like paper. I like books. I like words.”
I definitely like words. So when I struggle to find words, I know that I am, in general, struggling.
When I first started blogging, words helped me to make sense of my mother’s slide into dementia. She was losing words. I was finding them and using them. A few years later, when my father followed my mother down the same road, the words didn’t come as easily. After he passed away, words slowed to a trickle. Occasionally I have enough to fill a post, but, obviously, not often, or at least not often enough to complete a blogging challenge.
But this is a post about words — specifically, liturgical words.
I wish I could say that Hutchmoot started me on my journey into liturgy as a spiritual practice, but I think it’s more like I met a bunch of companions who were traveling down the same road, and we’ve now traveled that way together for many years.
When I’m refer to liturgy, I’m talking about ritual, about scripted words, about reciting ancient prayers in unison — practices that we seem to have abandoned in many modern churches.
In 2013, my friend Alyssa — the one I met at Hutchmoot — gave me a “hijacked journal” for Christmas. It was a lovely journal with a rabbit on the front, and she had hijacked it by writing quotes from some of my favorite authors on many of the pages. I spent 2014 and 2015 filling those pages with prayers – a new one each week.
Most of the prayers in 2015 were ones I wrote myself. I wrote them and then I prayed them over and over. The pages are full of revisions as the praying helped me edit. Or, was it God?
At Hutchmoot 2015, on Sunday afternoon as part of our closing session, we joined together for “The Liturgy of Lost Rhyme,” written by Douglas McKelvey. When we walked into the sanctuary, we were handed a script and a slip of paper that told us the part we were to read.
We joined together reading old/new words, interspersed with songs, that told the story of our brokenness and our redemption.
In retrospect, I see how this was a prelude for one of the most important books to come out of the Rabbit Room — Every Moment Holy. (Rabbit Room is the “host” of Hutchmoot.)
Every Moment Holy, published in 2017, is a collection of liturgies written by Douglas McKelvey. It contains everything from table blessings that can be read by a group at a special dinner to a couple of prayers for before or after changing a diaper. He gives words of thanksgiving to God for the wonder of the first snow or arriving at the ocean, and prayers to offer when we hear sirens or find ourselves randomly thinking of another. Every moment truly is holy — and these are liturgies to remind us of that. They gives us words for moments when we don’t have words.
If I were to tell you to go to the Rabbit Room store and buy one book, it would be this book.
Every Moment Holy, Volume II: Death, Grief & Hope came out a month ago. It contains liturgies for when a person receives bad news, for caregivers in need of rest, for those who enduring lasting pain, for final hours. Having sat at both my parents’ bedsides when they passed away, I can tell you that words don’t come easily in those moments.
Back to struggling for words… This post has been in my draft folder for a full month. Hey, Doug — how about a liturgy for finishing an unfinished blog post?