Walking the Office

I have taken to reading the Daily Office outdoors in the early morning and evening, walking the side-streets around where I live.

In the unlikely case that you should be interested, I use a version of the Office called Celebrating Daily Prayer compiled by David Stancliffe, until recently Bishop of Salisbury: “a pocket version of Common Worship: Daily Prayer … that draws together the pioneering work of Celebrating Common Prayer, and the Church’s mature experience of what helps people to pray with the Church.” What I like about it is that it is in one, handy-sized, hardback book, complete with psalms and readings, which includes variations for the liturgical year. It can be done in 5 minutes if I am in a real rush, or 20 minutes at a slower, more reflective pace.

I wonder what people make of me, or whether they even notice this unwashed and unshaven man reading a book under his breath as he ambles up and down the short streets and little circus of upmarket Stockwell in the early morning light?

In any case, there I am, walking slowly, muttering the Offices to myself, every now and then stopping to think and let something sink in or look around me. It is engaging. All of my senses are stimulated, this body is on the move, and yet there is a quiet simplicity about it. Where I live is unusually beautiful at the moment: Spring is a happening surprise; the sun shines; the leaves and the blossom are out; there are the perfumes of the flowers and the particular smells of the early morning and evening; the bird sing; and there is the air, the sky and the clouds. Nature is the great explicator of God.

What this body does when you pray is so important.

I love to be still: to sit in silence and solitude, to relax, to feel into this body, to feel this body in God, to trust this body to God. There is something quite different about walking and praying aloud (albeit sotto voce). It opens me up to the world in a different way. It makes me stop and look and ponder. There are moments when I realise that I am joining in with the prayer of and with and for the world.

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