Prayer on the Feast Day of St. Ignatius
Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Antioch, your saint and martyr, who “offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present to you the pure bread of sacrifice.” I would like to offer myself as he did – the “tribute of my life”, as the Collect says, in all the little moments that present themselves today.
But I am so tired and irritable. My mind is like fizz while my tongue is like a razor. To put it simply, I’m not really fit company for human or beast.
I do have it in me to be grateful. I’m one of the few very fortunate humans on this planet. I have a house with hot and cold running water at the touch of a faucet knob. Electricity runs to it, so I can easily work, read and cook. My windows are strong and my roof, though leaking profusely at the moment, will soon be solid and sheltering. Inside my home it is warm when the nights grow cold and light when they are dark.
I have shoes on my feet and food in my cupboards. I have separate clothes for work, for play and for special occasions. I have a wealth of children and grandchildren, a loving sister and the best of all possible partners, and incredible friends. I have the freedom to speak my mind, worship as I please, dress as I like, go where and when I desire. And there are hospitals and libraries right here in my own town.
Today many wedges of geese cut the bowl of heaven, calling in that way they have that stirs the blood to wandering. The frost was thick on the lawn earlier, but now everything seems to have thawed into a soft, brief warmth. The sky is a blue so sharp it makes my teeth ache, and against it flame the autumn trees – yellows, oranges, reds. Leaves sparkle as they flutter down to earth, making pungent crackling drifts. Your world is so beautiful it takes away my breath.
All I want to do is shuffle through those rustling leaves, breathing deeply. I want to catch the warmth of the sun on my eyelids. And coming home, I want to sing back to the geese my own song, a hymn to staying and to loving where I am.
Beloved, you know I have given my heart to you, and I will go wherever you call me to be (if you make it clear enough for me to understand where that is.) But don’t you think it would be better for everyone concerned if, after I’ve done my necessary work today, I just curl up on my couch with a mystery novel I just borrowed from the afore-mentioned library? The novel is set in Norway, and the characters seem promising.
You who are both under my rib cage closer than my most intimate thought, and beyond me entirely in the slow exhale of stars, I am as secure in your love as in my own person-hood, and all my inner landscapes open ultimately to you. So let me pray in silence in the place below my mind, and let me take a little sabbath and visit the world of gun toting foreign policemen.
Beloved, guard me and guide me today, and please help me be still. Amen.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado