Thursday, July 09, 2009

Prayer Squares

I was trying to find a new way to photograph my log cabin squares for my last post, and only ended up sharing a few. As I looked back through the pictures this morning, though, some of the others caught my eye.

I've been reading Three Cups of Tea, chronicling the work of Greg Mortenson to build schools in remote regions of Pakistan. It is a remarkable story that takes the reader quite literally to great heights of humanity and great depths of character. People whom the world would describe (and even more so now than when the story began pre-September 11) as enemies come together, open their hearts to one another, embrace a common vision, and build up hope stone by stone, beam by beam, school by school.

In those rare moments when I put the book down, I turn on the computer to catch up on news from General Convention. It is amazing to me that with the click of a few keys I can see pictures from the floor, read about resolutions, view the breathtaking diversity of people, and listen to them pray and sing and speak together. In her opening sermon, Bishop Katherine spoke about the heart, not just as the seat of our emotions but as place from which we think and reason and make decisions. We were given a new heart when Jesus offered us his very own, and just as a human heart needs to beat to stay healthy, we need to exercise the hearts that have been transplanted into us.

"Every time we gather," she said, "the Spirit offers a pacemaker jolt to tweak the rhythm of this heart. The challenge is whether or not we'll recognize and receive that renewed life, whether the muscle will respond with a strengthened beat, sending more life into the world.... So how will this heart push more lifeblood out into a languishing world? Can you hear the heartbeat? Mission... mission... mission... mission..."

Greg Mortenson is not an Episcopalian. Most of the people with whom he works are not Christian. But that has not impeded the beating of their hearts in rhythm with one another and with God, and many thousands the world over have felt their hearts renewed and strengthened by his story.

Pakistan is a Muslim country, but the region where Greg first imagined a better world was once Buddhist. In fact, the mosque in Korphe where he built the first school was once a Buddhist temple. Voices and images of prayer - Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist - have been mingling in my own heart, which is perhaps why when I looked at these pictures this morning I saw prayer flags rather than quilt squares.

Almighty and everliving God, be present with those who take counsel for the renewal and mission of your Church and your world. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it. Book of Common Prayer, p. 818

1 comment:

Julie Nolte Owen said...

Beautiful reflection. I love the photos.