Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, May 8, 2015
My Connection to the Stars. Or, Not.
I began the next exercise in the book Inner Compass this evening, in chapter 2. The author Margaret Silf encouraged her readers to use a passage from 1 Kings 19 in meditation and prayer. Where Elijah chooses Elisha, and there is some business with yoked oxen.
Somehow, I did not connect as closely with Elijah and Elisha, and the specifics of the passage. However—in an instant, I entered into the preliminary imagery and meditation Silf described:
“Begin by imagining yourself standing outside your own home, beneath a brilliant, starry sky. Take in the splendor and the immense space stretching out above you, beyond your grasp, beyond measurement. . . . Now find a familiar constellation. Out of the infinity, there is something recognizable—it pinpoints your location exactly in time and space.” 
Boy, was I able to visualize this in my imagination. I was immediately outside, face upturned, searching the sky for a constellation. I thought of Orion. I’ve almost always been able to find Orion’s belt when stargazing. Except—on this occasion.
Here in the Chicago area, the stars are less bright. Or, the street lights and various other lights of the city and suburbs mask the brilliant evening sky. Or, something in between the two. I usually see only a small portion of the stars that others tell me about. Others who live in rural areas, far away from the bright city lights. (I hear tell of the glorious wonders of the star-filled heavens.)
But that was not all. In my imagination, I stood in the middle of an open grassy space where I ought to have been able to see some stars, at least. Wouldn’t you know, all the eyes of my imagination could see were clouds. Over almost the whole sky. Although, I did spy the moon, struggling to shine through the cloud cover. The clouds tumbled along in a hurry, and the dim light from the moon flickered. Brighter, then more subdued. I could catch a quick glimpse of a star or two, but then they would be covered up again as the clouds continued to roll across the dark panorama of the sky.
Try as I would to follow Silf’s instructions, I just could not focus on a single star, much less a constellation. That detour at the beginning of my prayer exercise short-circuited the exercise for me. Or, at least sent me in a different direction.
I vaguely understood that my place in the heart of God was hidden. Somewhat. God is still there, of course, just like the moon behind the clouds. But, I am still struggling to find my place, find that unique place that is all mine, in the heart of God.
God willing, I may find that place. And meanwhile, I am still on the journey with God, even though God is hidden. Sometimes.
I didn’t even really consider 1 Kings 19 tonight. I was too caught up with the starry preamble. But, that’s okay, I think. Wasn’t it? I hope so. I pray so. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.
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 Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 13.