Shawna Atteberry

Writer, Editor, Researcher

Battling Depression and Sloth: Routine and Ritual

October 2-8 was National Mental Health Week. I’m a little late to the party, but this week I’m going to post on my own struggles with clinical depression. This post was originally published on December 4, 2008.

I am becoming very content with routine. I like praying at set times (Morning prayers and Compline or Vigils). I like doing a little housework and laundry to maintain the order of my house. I like reading and writing in the afternoon and in the wee hours. I like walking in the morning, but practicing yoga in the evening. And I am thinking that routine may be more than than the same old drudgery we tend to define it as.

Kathleen Norris started me thinking about the value of routine in her latest book: Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life. What is acedia you wonder? Acedia is from the Greek akedos, which means absence of care. Wikipedia defines it as apathy or laziness. It’s more commonplace synonym is sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. This is the one of the seven deadly sins I am the most acquainted with. Me and acedia (or sloth) are on a first name basis. Here is one of Norris’ descriptions of acedia:

One of the first symptoms of both acedia and depression is the inability to address the body’s basic daily needs. It is also a refusal of repetition. Showering, shampooing, brushing the teeth, taking a multivitamin, going for a daily walk, as unremarkable as they seem, are acts of self-respect. They enhance the ability to take pleasure in oneself and in the world. But the notion of pleasure is alien to acedia, and one becomes weary thinking about doing anything at all.

Taking care of ourselves and where we live, are signs of self-respect. Signs that we take pleasure in our lives, in others, in what we do, and in who we are. When we let sloth in, it really does suck the pleasure out of life. When I let acedia have its way, I have trouble getting off the couch, let alone writing a chapter or picking up the clutter.

I live these paragraphs more often than I want to admit. Like Norris I don’t know if acedia leads to my depression, or if the clinical depression makes me more suspectible to acedia. I do know the two tag-team me on a regular basis, if not a daily basis.

So much of the time I just don’t care. I don’t care what gets done and what doesn’t get done. I don’t care if I write or not. There are times I don’t care if I shower or not. I have no ambition, no energy, and no drive to accomplish anything.

I mindlessly surf the net, mindlessly watch TV, mindlessly stare into space. And I don’t want to do anything else. Norris notes that repetition is what fills our days. Life is a routine of daily activities: getting up, showering, eating, cleaning, working and playing. These are the rituals of life-from putting on clothes to making the bed to rinsing out the tub-these are the daily activities that keep us connected to life, connected to each other, and connected to ourselves.

In prayer a couple of months ago, I asked God to make me aware of her presence in my everyday rituals, to remember God was with me in the making of my bed and in making wholesome meals. That’s when it hit me that everyday routines were rituals. Not only rituals to bring us closer to God, but rituals to take care of ourselves. This is Brother Lawrence’s knowledge that worship in the kitchen making meals was every bit as important as worship in chapel taking communion.

Instead of routine, I am slowly starting to think of the daily motions of my life as ritual. Something I do because I am important, and I am worthy of taking care of myself and my surroundings. It’s slow going, but I think that is because there is no quick fix. It takes a combination of prayer, yoga, meditation, daily routines, antidepressants, and the daily discipline to do small things like the make the bed and shower. But I feel better.

I also think that realizing my routine was not the 9-5 one our world glorifies in has had a major impact on how I feel and function. I am a night owl. I’ve always done my best and most creative work in the wee hours. It’s after midnight. It’s quiet. It’s dark. I can hear myself think and for some reason, in the wee hours, I don’t mind hearing those thoughts. Last month I started staying up working until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. I get up around 10:00a.m., pray morning prayers and practice contemplative prayer. I start working between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., and go until around 5:00. I practice yoga, make supper, and spend time with The Hubby. Then sometime between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m., I get back to work (usually closer to 10:30 p.m. because I have to have my Jon Stewart fix). I cannot believe how much better I feel, and how much more energy I have. I am very blessed to be self-employed and able to set my own hours. I am doubly blessed to have a husband who supports my work and hours (well he is jealous; he’d keep the same hours, if he could).

I am finding a lot of self-acceptance in this process. Accepting that I keep different hours, that I need that order and routine of the Daily Office, need to clean off the coffee table and keep the tub somewhat clean. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and crocheting, but I now I am finding sacramental moments in creating meals and creating gifts for others. I like the journey I am on, and I hope it gets me through this winter better than the last two.

Chicago winters are brutal if you have depression and tend towards Seasonal Affective Order. Depression and sloth are knocking on my door, and they will be held in check until after Christmas. But January and February. . . That’s when I become a big slug who doesn’t care if I get off the couch. I have not made it through the last two winters well. But I am hoping to do better this year in adding routine and ritual to Vitamin D, B complex, antidepressants, prayer, and yoga. Well, actually, I’m hoping to keep practicing yoga and exercising regularly. That is something I have yet to accomplish in the winter gloom. But I have hope. Hope that the little things do make a difference, and that if I keep doing the little things everyday, I will eventually become whole and healthy.

Related Posts:

What Are You Saying to Yourself?
Another Jouney with Depression

Fogs of Depression

Depression and Spiritual Direction

Procrastinating on Your Lenten Discipline?

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Am I the only one procrastinating on choosing a Lenten discipline? To be honest, I’ve been procrastinating on writing this article most of the day. I tweeted that I was going to write this blog post around 11:30 this morning, and I’m just now starting it at almost 6:00 p.m. I figured I wasn’t the only one dragging my feet on choosing something to do or give up for Lent, so here are a few of things I’ve thought of.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina means divine reading. It is a slow meditative reading of a passage of the Bible or a spiritual book. There are three movements of lectio divina: meditation (meditatio), prayer (oratio), and contemplation (contemplatio).

  • Meditation/meditatio: Read the passage three times out loud, slowly. The first time simply read through. The second time be aware of any words that pop out at you. The third time read until you reach the place that spoke to you on the second reading. Ask yourself: Why does this stand out? What is it saying to me? Why is the Spirit bringing this to my attention? Mull it over.
  • Prayer/oratio: Take whatever you find to Godde in prayer. Whether it’s gratitude, sorrow, joy, or repentance, pray about what the passage has said to you, and your response to it.
  • Contemplation/contemplatio: Choose a word from your reading or prayer that best expresses your experience during meditation and prayer. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Spend a few minutes in silence, listening to Godde. If your mind wanders silently say the word you chose.
  • If you want, journal your lectio experience.

Online resource: Garden of Grace

The Daily Examen

The Daily Examen is a thoughtful look at the day to see how we saw and responded to Godde’s grace through what we did, our responses to the people we met though the day, and our emotions. IgnatianSpiritality.com says

The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern [God’s] direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.

Here is one way of practicing the Daily Examen from Ignatian Sprituality:

  • Become aware of God’s presence.
  • Review the day with gratitude.
  • Pay attention to your emotions.
  • Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
  • Look toward tomorrow.

IgnatianSpiritality.com has many different examens listed at their site.

The Daily Office

The Daily Office is praying through the day. Prayers are said in the Morning, at Noon, in the Evening, and at Night (before bed). In the longer offices of Morning and Evening Prayer two or three psalms are said or chanted, one or two passages of Scripture are read, then there  is time for prayers. In the shorter offices of Noon and Night (or Compline) a short psalm or a portion of a psalm is read or chanted and two or three verses of Scripture are read before prayers.

Two places you can pray the Daily Office online are at The Online Book of Common Prayer (click Daily Office on the menu) and Mission St. Clare. Mission St. Clare has the hymns in each office in karaoke so you can sing along. Fun!

If you’re like me and can’t pray on the computer, you can order the Book of Common Prayer* from Amazon, along with Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours.* If you want a Daily Office that is gender inclusive, The St. Helena Breviary: Personal Edition* is wonderful.

Hospitality

Hospitality is one of the bedrocks of Christianity. Jesus liked to eat with people (especially people he wasn’t supposed to eat with) a lot. Jesus instituted Communion during the family meal and celebration of Passover. Early Christians gathered together to eat and share their resources with one another. Early in our history we started feeding people who couldn’t feed themselves. One of the most basic practices of Christians is feeding each other and feeding other people. I know, I know, a lot of people fast or give up a certain food group for Lent, but giving up food has never been a spiritual discipline for me.  Probably because I grew up with the skinnier-is-better and the “Diet! Diet! Diet!” culture, I just cannot consider giving up food to be a spiritual discipline (also my birthday always falls during Lent, and I’m eating my meat and cake!). If fasting is your thing, then go for it. However, I do make a suggestion: put aside the money you saved not buying sweets, pop, or meat, and at the end of Lent, give the money to a food pantry or homeless shelter. This is a personal preference: I much prefer to add something than just give up something for Lent.

Back to hospitality and food. If, like me, you like to feed people and feel it’s an important part of your spirituality here are two ways to practice hospitality during Lent:

  • Invite friends and family over for meals at your home. Decide how many times you want to provide hospitality during Lent. Then start meal planning and inviting.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry to help feed the hungry people in your community. Provide hospitality to those who need it the most.

A last resource that has all of these disciplines plus more is Marjorie J. Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.* It’s a good resource that you will go back to again and again.

I hope this helps you in deciding a discipline to bring you closer to Godde during Lent. Do you have anything to add to the list? What are thinking of giving up or adding for Lent? I’m leaning toward Lectio Divina myself. It’s been a long time since I practiced it, and it has always been one of my favorites.

*Affliate links

A Year of Loss and New Beginnings

As many of you know last year I resigned my ordination credentials and left my former denomination, The Church of the Nazarene. But I never really told you why. The official reason was theological differences, which is true enough. There were also many general leadership decisions made in the previous three years that I did not agree with. I had thought about leaving before but stuck around. Last year was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I started a home church in January of last year. I had been talking about this with the district superintendent and others since October 2007. In December I found out that they were creating a “mother” church for the Chicago area that would meet at the newly rented city district office. The main district office is in Bourbannais. Most of the denominational activity that happens in The Church of the Nazarene in northern Illinois happens in Bourbannais, Kankanee, and Joliet. My church plant would be a satellite of this “mother” church. It would have been nice to know about this a little sooner than 3 weeks before my church plant started. Then a time and day had to be set up for services. I had set my church plant to meet on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. The mother church decided to meet on Sunday at 10:00 a.m., which meant I could not make it to anything. This was the week before my plant started. So I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me to begin with.

Then emails went unanswered. Then there was a pastor training event. My husband was ill, and we spent the night before wondering if we were going to the ER for the pain he was in. We didn’t get much sleep. The morning of the training, I left a message on the answering machine telling them I wouldn’t be there and why. In fact, we were still wondering if we would be going to the ER. No one called or checked in on us. No one called to see if we needed any help. No one checked to see if my husband was in the hospital. Silence.

The silence became deafening in May of last year. My husband was very ill and looking at major surgery. I sent out an email to my district superintendent and my “mother” church. I was met by silence again. No one called to see if we needed any help. “Do you need help with meals?” “Can I run some errands for you?” “Do you need help cleaning?” Nothing. I didn’t even hear from the district superintendent, who was supposed to be my pastor (although he was quick enough to call when he received my resignation letter and credentials).

But the help and support I needed did come. The year before I had become friends with the priest at Grace Episcopal Church, Ted Curtis. I had worshiped a few times at their Wednesday Bible study and communion service. After sending out an email to the Nazarenes in Chicago, I sent an email to other friends in Chicago. Unlike the deafening silence of the Nazarene church, Ted told me to come to Wednesday service and during prayer they would pray for me. They did. They gathered around me, laid their hands on me and prayed. I cannot describe the peace and comfort of that time. After the service Ted told me that if we needed anything, to call him. He would get people organized to help us with meals, errands, whatever we needed. I was not a member of Ted’s church or a member of his denomination, but Grace Episcopal was there for me.

That is when I made my decision. It just wasn’t worth it. On top of the problems I was having with general church leadership and major theological disconnects, I had no community. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s when I told my husband, “I think about resigning my credentials, and it no longer bothers me. In fact, it’s a relief.” (My husband is fine. His doctors decided against the surgery and became more aggressive with drug therapy. He has been healthy for eight months now. Whoo-hoo!) I was okay with having no financial support. No biggie, I can live with that. I couldn’t live with not having any pastoral, emotional, or familial support. I decided that I wanted to be a part of the church that doesn’t just talk about loving and serving people. I wanted to be a part of a church that actually lived loving and serving, not only “other” people, but it’s own people. I mailed my resignation and credentials to the district office the end of May 2008. I even gave a two weeks notice: As of June I was no longer an ordained minister, nor a member of The Church of the Nazarene. I felt such peace. I knew it was the right thing to do.

Last October I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church, and I am now a member of Grace Episcopal Church. I can do all the things God called me to do there without being ordained: teach, preach, and write. My first time to preach will be on Pentecost, May 31. It seems very fitting that my first time to preach at Grace, my new church, will be the birthday of the Church.

Depression's Last Winter Fling

The last week has been rough. The depression I suffer from has decided to rear its ugly head, and it’s trying to turn me into a lazy slug (not that it’s getting much resistance). To a large extent, it has succeeded. I don’t move much. I sit and read and stare off into space. I’ve fallen behind on writing, laundry, groceries. And I need to get out of the house more. I didn’t think the depression was that bad, until today.

Last week was a grey, cloudy, dark week. I couldn’t wait to see the sun. Today was a beautiful day in Chicago. It was sunny, the sky was blue, and the temperatures were up in the 60s, and yet I sat on my couch all day pretending to work (hey I have to network, you know?). I had been dying to see the sun, to go outside without various and sundry layers, and did I do it? No.

I also need to go grocery shopping. I love to cook, and I love having my larders full of stuff I can make several meals from on a whim. I could have enjoyed the walk in the beautiful weather going to the grocery store, but did I? No. It seemed like too much work.

And that’s when it hits me. Those voices in my head are telling me it’s too hard. It’s too hard to keep up. Why bother. Hello my old friend sloth. Or are you going by acedia this time around? The voices that say nothing will change why bother? You’ll only need to make it again. You’ll only need to buy it again. Lulling me into that sloth state of sitting on the couch surfing the net and twittering. But not accomplishing anything.

Now in this wonderful stillness, I see that I have to get up and move. I must continue to pray the Daily Office and practice centering prayer. Tomorrow the sheets on our bed have to be changed. Tomorrow I have to go grocery shopping. Tomorrow I have to move: walk and practice yoga. Above all tomorrow I have to work. Not pretend to work by mindless activity, but work: WRITE. The sloth has been caught in the early stages. And the sunny days give me hope that spring is on her way; this is the winter’s depression last grand stand. I must stand firm and do the things I need to do that make life important. Do the things that say my life and my being are important enough to take care of us and our surroundings.

The Great Litany

Tomorrow I will lead our church in chanting the Great Litany. Many Episcopal churches chant The Great Litany on the first Sunday in Lent. What is The Great Litany? Chantblog has the answer:

An intercessory prayer including various petitions that are said or sung by the leader, with fixed responses by the congregation. It was used as early as the fifth century in Rome. It was led by a deacon, with the collects led by a bishop or priest. The Litany was the first English language rite prepared by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It was first published in 1544. Cranmer modified an earlier litany form by consolidating certain groups of petitions into single prayers with response. The Litany’s use in church processions was ordered by Henry VIII when England was at war with Scotland and France. It was printed as an appendix to the eucharist in the 1549 BCP [Book of Common Prayer]. The Litany was used in each of the three ordination rites of the 1550 ordinal, with a special petition and concluding collect. The 1552 BCP called for use of the Litany after the fixed collects of Morning Prayer on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The 1928 BCP allowed the Litany to be used after the fixed collects of Morning or Evening Prayer, or before the Eucharist, or separately. The 1928 BCP included a short Litany for Ordinations as an alternative to the Litany. The 1979 BCP titled the Litany “The Great Litany” (p. 148), distinguishing it from other litanies in the Prayer Book.

The Book of Common Prayer online has The Great Litany here. Chantblog has a Youtube video of The Great Litany chanted at St. Barnabas.

I will let you know how it goes. (Which reminds me I probably should run through it again before bed.)

Does you church do anything on the first Sunday of Lent to set the tone for the next 40 days?

Epiphany Vespers Office

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

Refrain

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Refrain

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.

Refrain

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Refrain

Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.

Refrain

Words & Music: John H. Hop­kins, Jr., 1857. Hop­kins wrote this car­ol for a Christ­mas pa­geant at the Gen­er­al The­o­lo­gic­al Sem­in­ary in New York Ci­ty.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

O Gracious Light Phos hilaron

O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Psalm 96

O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous works among all the peoples.
4For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
5For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6Honour and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9Worship the Lord in holy splendour;
tremble before him, all the earth.

10Say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.’
11Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12   let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13   before the Lord; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

Glory to the Father[-Mother], and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

A reading from Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men* from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,* and have come to pay him homage.’ 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah* was to be born. 5They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6″And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd* my people Israel.” ’

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men* and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,* until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped,* they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Thanks be to God.

Magnificat Antiphon: Seeing the star, the Magi said: “This is the sign of a great king. Let us search for him and lay our treasures at his feet: gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Alleluia.

The Song of Mary    Magnificat

Luke 1:46-55

My soul doth magnify the Lord, *
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded *
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth *
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, *
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him *
throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; *
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, *
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, *
as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever.

Glory to the Father[-Mother], and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Magnificat Antiphon: Seeing the star, the Magi said: “This is the sign of a great king. Let us search for him and lay our treasures at his feet: gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Alleluia.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father[-Mother] in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.

Lord, hear our prayer.
And let our cry come to you.
Let us pray.

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today in the World Cycle of prayer we pray for the people of the Chad.
Today in the Anglican Cycle of prayer we pray for the diocese of Central Zambia (Central Africa).
Today in the Ecumenical Cycle of Prayer we pray for our sisters and brothers, the Church in Wales.

Lord Jesus, though born a child, you reign as king. You have revealed in the flesh the marvelous love and power of our God. Accept our gifts as we pray: Lord Jesus, grant us your salvation.

King of the nations, you called the Magi as the first of the Gentiles to kneel before you; help us to honor you with praise and thanksgiving.
Lord Jesus, grant us your salvation.

King of glory, you judge the peoples with justice; free the oppressed and break the power of the wicked.
Lord Jesus, grant us your salvation.

Prince of Peace, you shatter the weapons of war; give us peace til the moon fails.
Lord Jesus, grant us your salvation.

King of Justice, you long to save the poor and the helpless; have pity on the lowly and sunder the chains of human slavery.
Lord Jesus, grant us your salvation.

Eternal King, you are faithful from age to age; forever send your word into our hearts like snow on winter stubble.
Lord Jesus, grant us your salvation.

Lord, your name is blessed forever and endures like the sun; fulfill for the dead the glorious promise of your salvation.
Lord Jesus, grant us your salvation.

With a star’s radiance, O God, you guided the nations to the Light; in a prophet’s words you revealed the mystery of the Messiah’s coming; through the Magi’s gifts you unfolded the richness of the Savior’s mission. Scatter again the darkness that covers the earth and divides peoples. Make our hearts thrill anew to see the multitudes carried as sons and daughters in your arms. In Christ and through Christ’s Gospel draw the ends of the earth into your family, that disparate cultures and warring nations may be gathered together as one. We ask this through Jesus, the Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The Magnificat Antiphon, Litany, and Concluding Prayer were taken from Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary. The rest of the office is from The Book of Common Prayer.

A depressing way to start the day

I got an outrageous water bill for my house in Kansas City. I called my realtor, and a pipe burst in my house. Sometime last month. The cabinets in the kitchen are warped, and the ceiling in the kitchen and living room have fallen in. The hardwood floor is gone. It looks like the house is a total loss.

An insurance claims adjuster and plumber will be meeting there after 5:00 to see what happened and assess damages. The clean up service will be there around 3:00. I’m getting ready to see how good my home owner’s insurance is. I am so depressed. Please pray for me. I will keep you updated.

Christmas Vespers

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll’d along th’ unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bow’d my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

‘Til ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

O Gracious Light Phos hilaron

O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Psalm 2

Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
2The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
3‘Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.’

4He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
5Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’

7I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

10Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11Serve the Lord with fear,
with trembling 12kiss his feet,*
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

Father[-Mother], and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

A reading from Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying,
14‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’*

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Thanks be to God.

Magnificant Antiphon: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Alleluia!

The Song of Mary    Magnificat

Luke 1:46-55

My soul doth magnify the Lord, *
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded *
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth *
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, *
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him *
throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; *
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, *
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, *
as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever.

Glory to the Father[-Mother], and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Magnificant Antiphon: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Alleluia!

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father[-Mother] in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.

Lord, hear our prayer.
And let our cry come to you.
Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, splendor of the Father[-Mother], into the age old darkness of our world, you cast the brightness of eternal light. We give you praise for those who show forth the mystery of your coming, until at last you are all in all. Listen, as we pray: Son of God, we give you praise.

For all who behold the glory of God shining in your face, Lord Jesus, and tell it in language, music and art.
Son of God, we give you praise.

For all who listen to the words of your mouth, Lord Jesus, and defend the afflicted and do justice for the poor.
Son of God, we give you praise.

For all who look upon this world with your eyes, Lord Jesus, and are patent in tribulation, constant in prayer.
Son of God, we give you praise.

For all who learn from your gentle and lowly heart, Lord Jesus, and are patient in tribulation, constant in prayer.
Son of God, we give you praise.

For all who learn from your gentle and lowly heart, Lord Jesus, and live in newness of life.
Son of God, we give you praise.

For all who stretch out your hand, Lord Jesus, and heal the sick and give life to those in the thrall of death.
Son of God, we give you praise.

For all who hold fast to your peace, Lord Jesus, and, in becoming reconciled to one another, give hope to the world.
Son of God, we give you praise.

Your word, O God of ageless glory, dwelling with you from before time, has become flesh and lived among us, and we have seen the glory of your Christ. Place on our lips the word of salvation, in our hearts a love that welcomes all, and, in the depths of our being, the light of faith and hope, which the darkness can never overcome. We ask this through Jesus, the Christ, our Lord.

May the Lord bless us, keep away all evil, and lead us to eternal life. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The Magnificant Antiphon, Litany, and Closing Prayer were taken from Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary. The rest of the office is taken from The Book of Common Prayer.

We opened presents with my sister-in-law and her family this morning. Tomorrow my brother-in-law and his clan (he has five kids and married a woman with three kids) are coming, and that is when we are feasting. There are going to be nine kids and eight adults stuffed into my parents-in-law home! We’re having a great time. My favorite gift has been Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which I was hoping someone would get for me. My second favorite present: a baseball cap with reading lights in the brim. It is so cool! I am such a geek.

I hope that you are able to celebrate Christmas with your family and loved ones.

Love,
Shawna

Veteran's Day: Thank you

“Eternal Father, Strong to Save” by William Whiting and Robert Nelson Spencer

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Christ, the Lord of hill and plain
O’er which our traffic runs a main
By mountain pass or valley low:
Wherever, Lord, our brethren go,
Protect them by Thy guarding hand
From ev’ry peril on the land.

O Spirit, whom the Father sent
To spread abroad the firmament:
O Wind of Heaven, by Thy might
Save all who dare the eagle’s flight,
And keep them by Thy watchful care
From ev’ry peril in the air.

O Trinity of love and pow’r,
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them where so e’er they go.
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad praise from air and land and sea.

Stanzas 2 & 3 (c)The Church Pension Fund.

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (From The Book of Common Prayer.)

To all veterans and soldiers thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Election Day Prayer

Lord God of all creation,

You rule and judge all nations,
You scatter the arrogant of mind and heart,
You cast down rulers from their thrones and raise up the lowly.

Today we elect those who will serve in our government:
the voices that call us to go this way or that way are confusing,
the signs of these times that we must discern are tragic and unjust,
the culture of death that afflicts all people is powerful.

Open our eyes to see your Reign in history,
our hearts to share your love with all people,
our ears to hear the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger among us.

Send your Holy Spirit upon the people of this land:
Teach us to make wise and prudent decisions.
Increase our faith and hope.
Help us to live the Gospel we profess.

May all who are elected this day:
do justice,
love goodness,
and walk humbly before You and all people.

We ask for these blessings,
confident in your providence through all time,
calling upon Mary our Mother
and all the saints who have served the cause of justice,
through your Son, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Savior, Amen.

H/T to Polisigh for both the prayer and the picture.