O Pilgrim of the Hours

Each morning
night's curtain
opens on a new day.
You are invited
to join the great opening.
Open your ears.
Open your heart.
Open you eyes
to the sacred path
you travel every day,
the path of the hours.

Greet the hours
with joyful awareness.
Greet the hours
with faithful presence.
Greet the hours
with a reverential bow.
Greet the hours
with a sacred pause.

Reverence each hour
as a small stepping stone
on your pilgrimage
through the day.
Receive the gift
of seven sacred pauses.
Practice waking up
seven times a day.

Macrina Wiederkehr, one of the Living Spiritual Teachers profiled on Spirituality & Practice, makes her home with the Sisters of St. Scholastica in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She is a master of everyday spirituality. In her seventh book, she presents an abundance of resources for those of any spiritual tradition who want to devote themselves to the devotional practice of pausing seven times a day for The Prayer of the Hours. Monastics follow the sacred hours and find within this ritual a great and refreshing freedom and sense of connection to others. Wiederkehr notes:

"It is possible to develop a kindred spirit with these rich historical hours that does not require praying specific texts or going to a particular place for prayer. Each hour has its own unique mood and special grace. You can learn to enter into the spirit of the hour wherever you are. No matter what you are doing, you can pause to touch the grace of the hour."

Here are the seven pauses which enable us to wake up:

• The Night Watch is a pre-dawn prayer that calls us to vigilance, deep listening, mystery and silence, surrender and trust.
• The Awakening Hour at dawn celebrates the new day with praise and resurrection, joy and delight.
• The Blessing Hour is a middle of the morning prayer that challenges us to heed the coming of the Spirit and to bring breathe and blessing to our work.
• The Hour of Illumination, at midday, is a time to nourish our bodies, recommit to our service of others, and to pray for peace.
• The Wisdom Hour, at midafternoon, invites us to reflect on the impermanence and the graciousness of life.
• The Twilight Hour, as evening begins, calls us to slow down as we make the transition from work to home and express praise and gratitude.
• The Great Silence, the last hour before sleep, is when we review the day, ask for forgiveness and strength, and surrender ourselves to God.

Wiederkehr enriches and deepens each of these seven sacred pauses with her own reflections, prayers, poems, and personal reflections; she also includes quotations from others. This inspiring devotional resource will serve as a catalyst to spur your own practice of being present and paying attention to the sacred rhythms of the day. A CD, Seven Pauses: Singing Mindfully Dawn Through Dark, has been created by Velma Frye as a companion to this book. It is available from www.velmafrye.com.