Welcome to week three of Lent, and to the third pause in the Seven Sacred Pauses. At this point, you may be feeling tempted to stop, and I understand. It may feel like three pauses for prayer and reflection before lunch is just too much. Again, I understand. But as with any skill–be it playing an instrument, competing in a sport, or learning a trade for income–growth takes practice, and practice is rarely fun in the beginning. I hope you will continue with me on this journey because I believe that with practice we can both experience and encounter the love of a very real God face to face, and that love leads us to grace, peace, and purpose. So with that, here is the third pause of the day.
The Illumination Hour:
(also known as Sext or Midday Pause)
Themes for the hour:
Commitment and Passion
Courage and Faithfulness
Healing, Truth, and Peace
This is the time of day when there are no shadows. The sun is at its peak and everything under it is seen for exactly what it is.
This is a time for truth, for honesty, and for light.
For you as an individual, this is a time to reflect on the truth of who you are. It is a time to let God open your eyes to see yourself as He sees you, and to see the world around you through the same lens.
“All that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” – Luke 8:17
“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” – Ephesians 5:13
This is difficult for most of us because beneath our exterior selves, beneath the image we work hard to portray, the idea of everything about us becoming known often sets off another voice.
There is often a voice that creeps into our heads and our hearts at the apex of the day that says,
“This is all you are. You are just a worker, just a toiler, just a pawn in someone else’s game. You are not who you should be.”
This voice works to make us believe we are not creative enough, not successful enough, not smart enough, not loved enough, nor loving enough. Whatever the descriptor is, this other voice always says you are not enough.
This is what illumination is for, to see things as they are. To see the truth. And in order to do that, we have to stop listening to our own skewed perceptions and see what God declares is the truth.
Jesus proudly proclaims
“You are the light of the world!”
Genesis boasts that you are made in the very likeness of God.
William Wordsworth puts it nicely:
“Trailing clouds of glory to do we come from God!”
So the illumination hour, no matter how tired you may feel, no matter how beat down by your morning, your work environment, or even by the heat of the sun itself, this hour is for seeing the light and the glory of being the Beloved that God has freely poured upon you,
no matter your choices or your circumstances.
And it is with that knowledge of who we are, that we become what the world around us most needs.
By becoming peace, we spread peace; whether to warring nations, to angry politicians, or just to our cubicle buddy who grates on our nerves.
By becoming love, we spread love; to the poor and oppressed as well as the oppressors. We spread love by choosing to love our enemies, our neighbors, and our family members.
By receiving the light of God that Jesus has already chosen to give us, we become light to those living in the darkness of fear, anger, hatred, and pain.
Gandhi said it well that we must become the change we wish to see in the world.
This means that here, at the Illumination hour, when it becomes so easy to crumble under the weight of our world and all the expectations we feel placed on our shoulders, when it becomes tempting to lash out or respond with snide remarks, pent up anger, or to simply protect ourselves from others by building walls,
this is the moment we must choose to instead be peace,
to respond with grace, patience, and kindness.
This is the time of day to personally embody the fruits of God’s Spirit:
The good news is, we don’t have to do this on our own. It is not by our own strength we become these things. Rather, when we pause and let God blanket us in
His love for us that casts out fear,
His joy in creating us and walking with us,
His peace for us and our circumstances,
His patience with us and our growth,
His kindness that compels us,
His goodness for us in all things,
His faithfulness to us especially when we are unfaithful,
His gentleness in caring for and correcting us,
and His self-control in responding to us
It is then that the light flows from God to us, and from us to our world.
To represent this, I will leave you with a beautiful prayer and Macrina Wiederkehr’s own words:
“Lead me from death to life
From falsehood to truth
Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust
Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts
Our world, our universe.”
“I will believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is. We are filled with a truth that cannot be contained. We can be the truth, the hope, the love, the peace that we long to see in our world. We can hold the warring nations of this world in our hearts and shine on them. We can hold in our hearts those who use power irresponsibly and cover them with Christ-love. Take heart! We can be healers in our world.”
MIDDAY PAUSE PRAYER GUIDE
(from Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr)
In this the hour of the noonday sun, let us bow to each other and pray for peace. Let us be the peace.
In this, the hour of the noonday sun, we raise our hands to the Peaceful One.
This is the hour to pray for peace, for kindness and compassion to increase.
So let this be the hour of release.
Let us bow to each other and pray for peace.
Let this be our promise. Let this be our song.
We will be the peace for which we long.
Before we share our noonday meal,
Our deepest hungers let us feel
This is the hour for peace to flower.
Let us be the peace, Let us be the peace.
When the power of love overcome the love of power, there will be true peace in the world.
In this hour of opposites
Between the waxing and the waning of the sun
We pause to remember who we are:
Birth givers, peace keepers,
Joy bringers, light bearers.
We are the light of the world.
In this hour of illumination
Let us shine into the broken places
With our very own Christ-light.
We can be the peace
We can be the healing
We can be the Christ.
Trailing clouds of glory, we have come
From the brightness of God.
Our power to love will overshadow our love of power.
In this luminous hour we will see what we must see, and we will shine because of what we have seen.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be true peace in the world.
Biblical Psalm Suggestions
O Luminous Face of God…
In this hour of no shadows, gather us into the guesthouse of your great heart and enable us to see all that waits for us in the brightness of your presence.
Heart of Our Hearts, teach us to take heart at this high noon moment. Restore our courage and create in us nonviolent hearts that we may better serve your people. In the name of Jesus who asked us to take heart. Amen.
MIDDAY PRAYER GUIDE
(from Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals)
Read the regular text to yourself, then imagine every lover of God dead or alive reading the bold with you as one body:
Draw us into your love, Christ Jesus : and deliver us from fear.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love:
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not
So much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Spend at least 90 seconds in silence for meditation
Pray the Lord’s Prayer (or rewrite it in your own words)
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers and sisters
Throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and pain. Give them today, through our hands, their daily bread; and through our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen.
Blessed are the poor,
For theirs is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are the hungry,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they are the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness and justice,
For great is their reward.
Come, Holy Spirit. We pray that your fruit would be in us “ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me;
Within your wounds hide me;
Suffer me not to be separated from you;
From the malicious enemy defend me;
In the hour of my death call me;
And bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
Forever and ever. Amen.
Through our lives and by our prayers : may your kingdom come!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Go and pass the peace
As always, you can find more prayers, psalms, poems and more for your time of pausing, prayer, and reflection in Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr or Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. You can also find the Common Prayer daily guides at commonprayer.net