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Praying the Heart (a love note from your online Abbess)

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Dearest Monks, Artists, and Pilgrims,

I have been feeling a bit weary these last few days, fighting something off I think, and offering myself generous hospitality by resting and nourishing myself well with good food and the gift of herbs. I think it might be the transition of seasons, but I am listening in for the invitation and being gentle with my body and soul.

I received a book of poems in the mail today, Small Bird by Elizabeth Cunningham, and the poem below was on the first page. Her words shimmered brightly for me, and perhaps for you as well. My heart is feeling tender and quiet right now, trying to force words of wisdom feels untrue, and because I only want to offer what feels true, I offer you this week a prayer of poetry and an invitation into the great silence.

Praying the heart

You can only pray what’s in your heart.

So if your heart is being ripped from your chest
pray the tearing

if your heart is full of bitterness
pray it to the last dreg

if your heart is a river gone wild
pray the torrent

or a lava flow scorching the mountain
pray the fire

pray the scream in your heart
the fanning bellows

pray the rage,
the murder and
the mourning

pray your heart into the great quiet hands that can hold it
like the small bird it is.

—Elizabeth Cunningham, from her book of poems Small Bird

Pray what is true for you right now, whatever it feels like. You do not have to feel any other way. You are held just as you are.

Do check out our Community Lectio Divina invitation for this month with the words of St. Brigid, and our latest Monk in the World guest post by fellow monk David Norling. If you are a soul care practitioner or longing for a live retreat experience with the Abbey, there is lots of goodness below plus other news.

With great and growing love,


Photo: Kristin Noelle‘s art for the first principle of the Monk Manifesto (you can see a video with all 8 of her delightful images here)

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2 Responses

  1. At This Point In Time – ATPIT – the poem by Elizabeth Cunningham has impacted greatly. Thankyou for the reminder.