In the area where we fish in Lake Champlain there is a log that protrudes from the water just enough to be seen in the evening light, just enough for us to position our boat so as to aim casts in its general vicinity. We call it “David’s Log” because it was David, at age twelve or so, who first suggested fishing around it, and David who has caught many bass there, using an old-fashioned jitterbug lure that bubbles and slurps so disruptively across the water that it seems more likely to frighten fish away than to make them want to bite it. But it works, and so we keep going back to David’s Log, even now that David has turned twenty-one, and rarely has opportunity to fish around his own log.
The Daily Office reminds me of David’s Log. The seasons change, but the pattern of psalms, lessons, canticles, and prayers stays pretty much the same. Our behavior at Morning Prayer is as predictable as an evening spent fishing on the lake. For the Daily Office we stand, sit, recite verses in rhythmic unison, and observe extended periods of silence. On the lake we motor over to the vicinity of David’s log, cast noisy surface lures out onto the windless water, and hope for a strike. Such ritual behavior always renews our connection to the lake and to each other, even when no fish is caught. In a similar way, the Daily Office always renews our connection to the living word of God, and to our spiritual ancestors, and to every living thing.
Perhaps you are thinking: “now I know why I don’t like going to church: it’s for the same reason I don’t like fishing. Boring!” If so, I will not try to disabuse you of your feelings. But I will ask you this: is there anything in your experience that reminds you of “David’s Log?” Is there a place, a symbol, a shared memory that connects you to some cherished current that runs through your life? I hope so, because most people can get by without bass fishing, and God will love you even if you never once show up at Morning Prayer Monday-Thursday at 8:30am in St. Paul’s Chapel, but you really need to have something like David’s Log in your life.
And that is as about as judgmental as I ever get.
Peace be with you,