Week of Christmas, Year One
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 20, 21:1-7(8-14) (morning) // 23, 27 (evening)
Over the holidays, I took a trip to Tucson, my childhood hometown and the place where my parents joined the Episcopal Church. I haven’t been back to Tucson much, but my sudden immersion in the desert landscape reconnected me with my earliest experiences of God. There were also small details that sparked memories I never would have recalled otherwise. To take one trivial example, on a trip to the Sonoran Desert Museum, I noticed that the map identified several “ramadas” along the winding paths. I hadn’t heard that word for decades, but ramadas used to be a common part of my vocabulary. A ramada is just a Spanish word for an open-air shelter with a flat roof that is made of branches. We had one in my elementary school playground, and it was a popular meeting place at recess on hot or rainy days.
A verse from our Psalm reminded me that these places of shade, once so essential and pervasive in my landscape, were also signs of God’s presence. As the Psalmist says to God, “you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.” At so many times in my life, God has been a simple shelter whose presence I have taken for granted. This presence isn’t always the most stable or solid, nor does it protect us from every harm or provide our every need. But hopefully we can recall and sense that presence throughout our lives, and today.