Friday, January 14, 2005

Morning Prayer

Thersites quoted a lovely poem by Seamus Heaney (which reminds me I have to do more reading in modern Irish poetry), but more importantly it reminded me of the Irish -Scottish traditions of wholeness with Creation, which is an important part of the tradition of Celtic prayer. And that led me to remember this, from Carmichael's notes in the Carmina Gadelica:

My mother was always at work, by day helping my father on the croft, and by night at wool and at spinning, at night clothes and at day clothes for the family. My mother would be beseeching us to be careful in everything, to put value on time and to eschew idleness; that a night was coming in which no work could be done. She would be telling us about Mac Shiamain, and how he sought to be at work. If we were dilatory in putting on our clothes, and made an excuse for our prayers, my mother would say that God regarded heart and not speech, the mind and not the manner; and that we might clothe our souls with grace while clothing our bodies with raiment. My mother taught us what we should ask for in the prayer, as she heard it from her own mother, and as she again heard it form the one who was before her.

My mother would be asking us to sing our morning song to God down in the backhouse, as Mary's lark was singing up the clouds, and as Christ's mavis was singing it yonder in the tree, giving glory to the God of the creatures for the repose of the night, for the light of the day, for the joy of life. She would tell us that every creature on the earth here below and in the ocean beneath and in the air above was giving glory to the great God of the creatures and the worlds, of the virtues and the blessings, and would we be dumb!

My dear mother reared her children in food and clothing, in love and charity. My heart loves the earth in which my beloved mother rests.

Catherine Maclennan, nee MacDonald, crofter, Achadh nam Breac, Moydart.

And this is the prayer her mother taught her:

Bless to me, O God,
My soul and my body;
Bless to me, O God,
My belief and my condition.

Bless to me, O God,
My heart and my speech,
And bless to me, O God,
The handling of my hand.

Strength and busyness of morning,
Habit and temper of modesty,
Force and wisdom of thought,
And Thine own path, O God of virtues,
Till I go to sleep this night;

Thine own path, O God of virtues,
Till I go to sleep this night.

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