Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sacre Coure: the prayers of the praying

On a Parisian hill stands a church, where,
they say that for 125 years, day and night, somebody....anybody,
has been praying.
And then they beckon:
Come and adore the Lord.

On a recent cloudy June day, I stood at the doors of Sacre Coure,
the white church on the hill,
a little in awe of its bigness,
and even more by the time, the numbers, the worship of the Saints in this place.
I entered. I wanted to join my prayers with theirs.
I wanted to adore the Lord.

But I found that rather than adoring, I was crying. The weight of a year,
the heaviness of longing, followed me into that dusky holy place.
And I couldn't even pray.

I could only be there, silent with tears.
I'm sure mine were not the only ones wept in that place over such a length of time...
Wars, Paris has seen them. The Church has struggled under the weight of them. The Saints have mourned them.
The dying. The lost. The gone.
Names uttered, memories held, lives released
in that space of a holy building.

And so were mine.
I found, without words, myself joining the cloud of witnesses.
My tears finding a home.
My cries, heard.

Come and adore the Lord.


I wrote this poem many years ago after considering The Lord's Prayer.

the prayers of the praying

black words white spaces
what to say whom to thank.
telling, as much as they ask.
i’ve never truly prayed
but only spoken
inky language
signifying the
hardness appropriate of those,
of me, afraid.

thy will be done
in this crowded icy corner
as it is in heaven.

Linking up with in the hush of the moon and Imperfect Prose Thursdays.


Leslie said...

Your words here touch my heart, deeply.

"I found, without words, myself joining the cloud of witnesses.
My tears finding a home.
My cries, heard.

Come and adore the Lord."


Brian Miller said...

i think the silent tears are sometimes the loudest prayers...nice pictures as well...

Kathryn said...

I was reading this morning in Nehemiah 8, and I am guessing your overwhelmed heart felt a bit like the Israelites in the story, a day set aside for sacred celebration, but their hearts were full of grief. The priests had to tell them, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength... Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved."

I've been feeling that weight lately, and am thankful for the grief-filled celebrations and hopeful for the days when celebration comes easier!

emily wierenga said...

april... i really, really get this. i love this part: "I found, without words, myself joining the cloud of witnesses." in this i believe is grace. in the inability to do anything but BE before him. and he comes, and enters us, and we cannot help but worship. your post is a holy offering. xo

Kati patrianoceu said...

Sometimes I think that feeling of overwhelmed inability to pray is the deepest form of prayer itself, the moment when God has to pray for us because all we can do is stand in awe of him. I've had so many such moments in the last few years. Sometimes I wish my heart would calm down, but other times I remember to enjoy the awe.

I only visited Sacre Coeur once, but I think your description absolutely did it justice :)

Jeff and Aimee said...


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