A Song of Praise

Trish StefanikA Benedictine Sojourner's View, Living in Community, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

light of heavenly glory sm



Joyous light of heav’nly glory, 
loving glow of God’s own face, 
you who sing creation’s story, 
shine on ev’ry land and race…


~ text by Marty Haugen,from Joyous Light of Heavenly Glory, one of the many hymns of praise sung during Liturgy of the Hours at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Situated in a sweep of prairie on a hill between the monastery building and our little recovered glacial lake is this grand old willow tree. Its expanse reaches out to the driveway of the monastery, a couple walking trails, and a little meditation deck. It can be seen from both the monastery and retreat & guest house windows. In every season, it is a sentinel of beauty. Before evening prayer today, I am particularly struck by the willow’s presence. Defined by the penetrating light of an afternoon late in the year, I see that willow as nothing less than manifesting God’s magnificence. As a light breeze dances among its branches I can almost hear the tree singing a song of praise.

Lines from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins come to mind,

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things…

So many poets, artists and musicians seem to instinctively see that which is hidden to most of us. Through their creation they attempt to make the Holy visible. The poet e. e. cummings declares,

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

My heart sings in resonance.

At the monastery we are always singing. Singing! Every day, at three distinctive times of the Liturgy of the Hours, the sisters and sojourners and any guests or coworkers are invited to enter into the rich poetic language and flow of chanting the psalms and singing hymns of praise to God. It is not unusual now that a particular melody stays with me throughout the work of the day and into the evening. It is somewhat unconscious, as if it has gotten into my DNA—or perhaps the song was always there, just waiting to be echoed into the world.

Now as evening falls around us,
we shall raise our songs to you.
God of daybreak, God of shadows,
come and light our hearts anew. 

All this singing praise to God is giving me a particularly lovely perspective. It is forming me into a right order of things out of which to go about all work and relationships. It is shaping my view of the earth, its creatures and other human beings, and making a difference in how I care for them. It is influencing how I approach the tasks of the day and make choices into the future. It is even affecting how I spend my leisure time.

In Benedict’s words, we exist “so that in all things God may be glorified.”
Wow—imagine that.


Follow this link to read more of Trish’s blog posts: Living in Community – A Benedictine Sojourner’s View


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