One of the facets of the Church's prayer that has been largely lost since the hyper-personalisation of "spirituality" is the way in which it functions as the voice of Christ, prior to being the voice of us as individuals. The Church's prayer is firstly Christ himself offering his intercession to the Father. In a secondary sense our Prayer is that of the whole Body of Christ, offering herself to the Father, in Christ, by the power of the Spirit. Only in a tertiary sense do we discover our place, as individual members of that Body.
Yesterday we heard the very personal Compline by Julie Moore. Today we hear a very different voice - it reminds me of a passage we heard at Mattins early in Lent:
Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light--
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? (Amos 5.18-20)
One of the things I've learned about the younger generation, especially since Old Wine started, is how overwhelmed many of them feel at the state of the world. They sense a sort of weight of evil pressing down upon history. In Wordsworth's words (which we will hear over the next day or two), they are overwhelmed by "What man has made of man." Not to mention what man has made of Earth.
Most young people, of course, haven't inherited the language and imagination of Faith to be able to articulate things very clearly, but I think they feel their frustration as a sort of prayer to something. Philip Metres expresses a similar feeling in his version of Compline.
By Philip Metres
That we await a blessed hope, & that we will be struck
With great fear, like a baby taken into the night, that every boot,
Every improvised explosive, Talon & Hornet, Molotov
& rubber-coated bullet, every unexploded cluster bomblet,
Every Kevlar & suicide vest & unpiloted drone raining fire
On wedding parties will be burned as fuel in the dark season.
That we will learn the awful hunger of God, the nerve-fraying
Cry of God, the curdy vomit of God, the soiled swaddle of God,
The constant wakefulness of God, alongside the sweet scalp
Of God, the contented murmur of God, the limb-twitched dream-
Reaching of God. We’re dizzy in every departure, limb-lost.
We cannot sleep in the wake of God, & God will not sleep
The infant dream for long. We lift the blinds, look out into ink
For light. My God, my God, open the spine binding our sight.