I’ve found a treasure!
And what a wonder—obscured and disappearing!
I stumble upon it, through a series of meandering steps…
I take the book down from the shelf—
a collection: the “essence” of four historic volumes. I open it, start to read the “essence” of the first.
Something doesn’t sit right.
They don’t come off real somehow: these summary sentences and substituted words and chopped-short chapters, and (especially) the anachronisms—like an early 1700’s writer assessing modern elementary schools, and even television!
So I go to the blessed internet, and find the original manuscript, the nearly three hundred (large) pages that the “essence” book boils down dry to essentially fifty (small) pagefuls of print!
And there I happen upon it: The Great Treasure that goes missing! The “essence” book completely omits it. And it’s nearly vanished from modern Christendom—this “treasure” I’m convinced we could definitely use!……
Buried in the original text, I discover again the same diamond cache I lately unearthed elsewhere: The hours! The sweet hours of prayer (plural) that once guided the ordinary Christian’s day!
I discovered it first evolving in my own days, developing strangely, quite spiritually-automatic as I aspired to draw ever nearer to God. I gained a label to pin on it only after researching Medieval days.
I bumped into it again after clicking a link to Phyllis Tickle’s books, The Divine Hours— reading her introduction: clear evidence that set prayer hours preceded Christian monasticism by centuries. (“Look inside” Tickle’s book at “Introduction to this Manual”)
And my own earth-life showed me, painfully, my need for right-spaced spiritual refueling through my day (“just coincidentally” spaced at the same time lengths as the ancient hours).
Now here “The Hours” appear again. In this book by William Law.
In the original, that is. But not in the modernized summary version. And that tells on us as a culture—especially when we read the modern compiler’s reason for leaving out whole sections: “I have eliminated… thoughts… I believe… irrelevant and less helpful to today’s reader.”
I find nothing in his whole summary even referring to set times at which to draw aside to God. Evidently he judged prayer “Hours” irrelevant, not helpful today.
How at odds with my recent experience! The “hours” practice is changing my life, each day of it! And how I wish I’d incorporated these rhythms decades ago! How I wish I’d known!
My past feels robbed.
In my present, however, that which frenetic drivenness and distraction have robbed, God is restoring. In part, by “the Hours.” And how I thank Him!
It’s not happening overnight. It hasn’t happened fully yet. It’s developing. And the more I get it implemented in my days, the more richly I am blessed and blessed.