The Community of the Sestina

Week Four Stanza

What does it mean to pray in community?  Does one voice praying as priest best unify the desires of the hearts gathered?  Or, is it better for all gathered to pray a written prayer as one voice: children, elders, women, men, speaking as one, the same words?  Should we carefully craft or spontaneously cry out our prayers?  Should we pray, one by one in an orderly manner, or in the manner of our hearts, which are always speaking even when our mouths are not? I can only imagine the answer is, Yes. Pray.

The stanzas you have read and will read are formed by six separate voices, six separate hearts.  This week I have added the names beside each line to give a sense of chorus, of the parts that form the harmony.  Our composition is part Choral, part Jazz, part Orchestration, part Plain Chant, for we each have a part, a freedom, a form, and a unity — it’s a challenge, but a worthwhile and beautiful challenge.  So indeed we pray, with Kevin’s last line: Grace, courage these bones!  — for all who pray, for whatever reason, this Lenten season.

Bring a balm, a fragrance, to this heart in need of solace   (Laurel P)
and to this body bullied into this unholy pace.   (Laurel A)
Bind up my worries and sorrows.  Pour me love’s healing wine.   (Shelley)
Let my soul draught deeply, let it soothe my bones.   (Kevin)
Life to death.  Communion, please for the solitary   (Denice)
kneeling at the altar, my very essence, I return.   (Deb)

When I try to write, I’m too tangled in life to return   (Laurel A)
to my hidden landscape; weaving metaphors that bring solace   (Kevin)
cyclical life from life is halted, melee arresting time of solitary.   (Deb)
Time is of the essence if I can still it, decelerate the pace   (Denice)
and breathe.  One thought at a time. Listen to the peace in my bones   (Shelley)
spilling ink upon the page, forming orbs and angles, like water into wine.   (Laurel P)

Let me sip from the day, each moment, a mouthful of wine   (Kevin)
life’s saturation, steeping the hours, inviting my return   (Denice)
to the green valley where new flesh forms on these dry bones,   (Laurel P)
where still waters ripple peace, and I find sweet solace   (Shelley)
a cadence of renewal, at an unremitting pace   (Deb)
steadily walking, muscle and breath, neither solitary.   (Laurel A)

Spirit meets my pulsing blood, erasing solitary,   (Denice)
I swallow your presence and savour forgiveness-wine.   (Shelley)
Fed and refreshed, I will follow you, at my heart’s pace.   (Laurel A)
Obstinately though it wanders, sashaying to return,   (Deb)
firmly I step from altar to aisle, a journey of solace,   (Laurel P)
from broken to mended.  Grace, courage these bones!   (Kevin)

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