The Path, Slowly Walked


READ:  Psalm 86

“Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Truth.  Draw together the pieces of my heart so I might revere Your name.”
– Psalm 86:11

“Lord, let me walk along the path of sublimity with the feet of humility.  Amen.” 
– St. Augustine (354-430)

The path to my hermitage is a simple journey through a rustic bit of earth.  Yet, this daily path has become a sacred place for me where I can take a few sacred steps through a share of sacred time.  This morning  I left the Abbey through the wooden gate that opens unto the unpaved road we call the Elders’ Path, named so because of the stately trees that line the narrow road have the look of monks standing in their places in the choir.  As I walked beneath their lofty, leafy arms, the sun was breaking through in shafts of light, a cathedral kind of light.  A flock of noisy blackbirds had settled in among the trees and were chattering in a heated conversation.   A few squirrels were already at work foraging for what God serves for them this time of year.  Then at the end of the Elders’ Path, I turn left and take the Old River Path, no more than a well-worn trail.  On the one side, I pass the tiny cabins, shacks, and trailers that serve as the hermitages for Brothers.  They are spaced far enough apart to allow one a share of solitude, but close enough to chase away the shadow of loneliness.  On the other side of the trail is the river, a slow and lazy river that is nearing its long journey’s end, the gulf is about two miles further on.  I pass the pasture that has come into its season of dandelions.  I pass the old, apple orchard with its crotchety looking trees.  Today, in the water, a dead bird drifts along, a duck it would appear, but I could not be sure.  This saddened me but still the duck’s demise seemed to be somehow an acceptable part of this sacred place.  I came upon some monarch butterflies, not just one or two, but near a flock of them.  (Is that what you call a gathering of butterflies, a flock?)  They swirled, some together, some apart, some now departing for the fields, some waiting to catch up later on.  In the distance, I hear the cawing that I have come to know.  He always awaits on my river oak under which I write poetry and pray.  I speak of my faithful friend, Barnabas, my wise and watchful raven, though others might call him just a crow.  As I near the cabin, Barnabas always swoops down to meet me at the porch of my writer’s one room cabin, that is, unless I have been keeping in tow that day, Jazz, the Abbey cat.  On those days, Barnabas roosts upon the corner of the metal roof, for prudence sake.  This is my daily path and I try to walk it slowly.

I love that prayer by St. Augustine …“Lord, let me walk along the path of sublimity with the feet of humility.  Amen.”  Sublimity the quality of nobility or majesty, something endowed with supreme worth, most often, spiritual worth.  Humility … in the Benedictine emphasis … the ability and the willingness to be aware of one’s need and one’s place. 

Lord, let me walk along the path of sublimity with the feet of humility.  Amen.”  I cherish that prayer.  I have memorized that prayer and have inscribed it upon my soul.  It is my each and every morning prayer, my awakening prayer, my beginning prayer, my starting-my-day’s-journey prayer.  Possibly … you will make it yours.

“Lord, let me walk along the path of sublimity with the feet of humility.  Amen.”  Yes,my  Loved Ones, some paths are best slowly walked … so that the teaching of the path might have a chance to be learned.  Yet … we hurry and rush from here to there … neglecting all the sublimity that can be found along the way …


Brother Anthony of the Cross

(jim mcwhinnie)

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