Every once in a while, when I take my place in my choir stall for the Liturgy of the Hours, I have a momentary impulse to fasten my seatbelt.
Yes, I know that sounds strange. And yes, I know it doesn’t just sound strange, it is strange.
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I’ve always just chalked it up to the routine reaction of reaching for a seatbelt when entering other semi-enclosed seats – cars, planes, and the like.
Whatever the reason, whenever this impulse happens I just smile inwardly, bemused at the thought. But it has also brought about some reflection as to whether or not I really should buckle up. After all, who knows where prayer may take me. Perhaps I’d better have my seatbelt buckled. There may be some dangerous intersections or some curvy roads in there!
On the other hand, maybe it’s not my prayer that needs restraint, but my wayfaring thoughts that can sometimes rush headlong into anywhere or nowhere or everywhere but into God.
It seems that the liturgy itself is a kind of seatbelt that holds us safe as we journey in blind faith and with uncertain steps into the unfathomable love of God. The liturgy of the Church, the fluid yet disciplined singing of chant, the texts and subtexts that have resounded though the centuries…all of these serve as vessels of prayer that both convey and contain, that support and sustain, that free us even as they restrain us as we sit on simple wooden seats and pray…morning and night, day after day, month after month, year after year.
I still don’t know what to make of my occasional impulse to fasten my seatbelt. So when it happens, as it did again the other day, I just inwardly smile, letting the liturgy hold me as I sing and chant and pray, sitting safely in my simple wooden seat.
Postscript: Each Sister has her own routine choir stall, assigned to her by the Prioress, with her books for Lauds, Vespers, and Feast Days stored there. Many Sisters also keep a volume of spiritual reading and/or a Misselette and/or a rosary stored in their stall. I have never seen any seatbelts!