Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Walking Prayer

After reading "The Diary of a Country Priest" by Georges Bernanos, I feel as if I am transported to the novel setting of long ago France as I hang on to the final words of the story:

"Does it matter? Grace is...everywhere."

Those words reverberate in my heart as I leave my office for my daily luncheon walk around the Marquette College Campus. Suddenly, it feels like I'm traveling the roads that M. le Cure so loved in the novel. With the St. Joan of Arc Chapel in the background, the setting is nearly believable...

The pounding of my footsteps on the salt-covered pavement was the only noticeable sound aside from the roaring freeway traffic in the distance, which I could imagine was a far-off breeze in that long ago time.

All of the college students who usually fill the campus during the noon hour with their animated discussions as they hurry to class had gone home for Christmas break.

The frigid wind kept trying to blow my scarf from my neck, but I grasped it tightly to keep out the cold with one hand, while my other hand moved the beads in my pocket. With each step of my feet I breathe out a prayer...

Hail Mary...
step, step, step,
full of grace
the Lord is with thee...
step, step, step,

Can God hear my prayer more clearly through the noise of my feet, I wonder? Does the rhythmic sound catch His attention in this strangely silent environment? Or, is the muffled whisper of my words behind my woolen scarf--now damp from the heat of my breath--all that He requires to hear my heart? Does it matter whether the air is warm or cold, whether the walkways are bustling with activity or quietly abandoned?

I can feel Him in the air, in my breath, in my heart-His grace is here, always.

I continued on, quickly now, towards the warmth of my office, away from the desolate silence of this frigid space, hoping to hold His loving grace within me throughout the remainder of my busy day. And I kept on praying as I left my imaginary France behind for the reality of my urban life, but it didn't really matter where I was, for...Grace is everywhere.

Blessed art thou among women...
step, step, step
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,