Evening Prayer on 9/11

As told by Rebecca Hall

Think for a bit on your life. Think about your habits… your ruts… the activities you do mindlessly or automatically. We’ve been conditioned in today’s world of personal growth and self-awareness to think of ruts as a form of bondage from which we need to break free (and many of them are, of course). But, the vocation of the church – among many things – is to help us establish healthy, life-giving ruts. I ran into a man in such a rut the other day.

I have known Rick Patrick for years, but I never knew about his rut. For 20 years Rick has been leading Evening Prayer at St. David’s twice a month. St. David’s, led by volunteers like Rick, prays the Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer) every weekday at 8:30 and 5:30. When I went to Evening Prayer with Rick the other day I watched him prepare – he vested, he lit the candles, he looked up and marked the prayers for the day, he rang the bell to let the city know we were about to pray, and then he came and welcomed me into that space and time set apart. When we finished praying Rick told me that he often leads Evening Prayer alone, or for one or two others. And I know Morning Prayer is often the same.

Then he told me this story: on the day September 11, 2001, he spent the day, like all of us, in shock, disbelief and deep, deep sorrow. In one morning our world had been turned upside down. It was his day to lead Evening Prayer. He arrived at the church. He vested, he marked the prayers, he rang the bell, and then he walked into Grace Chapel. It was packed. Standing room only. He led Evening Prayer that day for a group of people who, when they didn’t know where to turn, went to church.

Rick’s rut helped him that day. He could lead Evening Prayer even through his own pain. He was practiced. And more than Rick being practiced, St. David’s was practiced – the church had this rut. Thanks be to God we do not have many September 11’s in Austin, Texas. It isn’t likely that Grace Chapel will be packed to standing room only on a Tuesday at 5:30 very often. But we all have our own personal September 11’s. When your child is very ill, when your life-partner dies, when your company downsizes you, when your marriage falls apart, when you become the parent to your parents, St. David’s is here. St. David’s is practiced.

So, think for a bit on your life. What are your ruts?

Interested in Morning/Evening Prayer but unable to be at St. David’s? There’s an app for that! www.missionstclare.com

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