God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
The chanting of the psalm continues. The voices blend together. Everyone speaks softly. We’re chanting together. We’re breathing together.
I’m able to take deep breaths. I’m able to hear more clearly. I’m able to listen more intently.
It’s new and yet not new to me. I’ve worshipped in monasteries before. I’ve spent days immersed in monastic communities. But each time it’s fresh. Inviting. Every time it enlivens my spirit. The quiet. The praying of the psalms over and over again. It’s all familiar yet distinct in each community.
The worshipping community today comes from all across the United States joining monks from across the world. I wonder what’s on the hearts of those gathered. I wonder what prayers they hold close to them. I wonder what peace they are seeking. I see squirming bodies and hear rumbling stomachs. I watch as eyes close and eyes look around intently. I feel the firmness of the wood bench and I feel the warmth of the chapel.
The bells toll calling us to attention. But I’ve been paying attention since first stepping foot into the chapel. The building itself and the peace call me into its presence.
I’m called to pause.
This pause in worship, in the chanting, in the singing, in the speaking, my body needs it. My heart and soul need this space to pause.
In the moments of pause throughout the worship I’m given a chance to dwell in God’s heart. To rest. To sit. To listen.
Can I learn from this prayerful pause? Can I take this pause out of the chapel and into my days?
I know God invites me into this space and into moments of peace and reflection not just at church and in worship.
I think about conversations with friends and family; pausing to sit with them and really listen. I reflect on playing with my kids and pausing to marvel at their energy and life. I picture myself cooking for my family and pausing to give thanks for the farmers and animals that provided my food. I see the busyness of my days and know that pauses are needed between tasks.
The worship ends and the voices of the monks stay with me. I hear the rustling of feet and papers. I hear bodies stretching and moving. I want to remain seated; rooted in this place that forces me to pause.
But I know I must leave and take the prayerful pause with me.
Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob our refuge. (Ps. 46)
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller/