While driving around town on Friday afternoon I was listening to a report on NPR about the oil slick off the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, I was not paying attention to who the announcer was interviewing at the moment so I do not have his name. At the end of the interview she thanked him for his time and he returned the thank you. Then, realizing she was about to cut the feed, he called out: Please pray for us.
Contemplatives rarely pray in words but if they do, their words are few. The fewer the better, as a matter of fact; yes, and a word of one syllable is more suited to the spiritual nature of this work than longer ones. For now the contemplative must hold himself continually poised and alert at the highest and most sovereign point of the spirit.
Let me try to illustrate what I mean with an example from real life. A man or woman terrified by sudden disaster is forced by the circumstances to the limits of his personal resources, and marshals all his energy into one great cry for help. In extreme situations like this, a person is not given to many words nor even to long ones. Instead, summoning all his strength, he expresses his desperate need in one loud cry: "Help!" And with this one little word he effectively arouses the attention and assistance of others.
In a similar way, we can understand the efficacy of one little interior word, not merely spoken or thought, but surging up from the depths of a man's spirit, the expression of his whole being. (By depths I mean the same as height, for in the realm of the spirit height and depth, length and breadth, are all the same.) And so this simple prayer bursting from the depths of your spirit touches the heart of Almighty God more certainly than some long psalm mumbled mindlessly under your breath. This is the meaning of saying in Scripture: "A short prayer pierces the heavens."
~excerpt from the Cloud of Unknowing -- ch. 37, Of the kind of personal prayers common to contemplatives.
(Act 457) The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) became Louisiana's official bird on July 27, 1966. It nests from South Carolina to Brazil. Pelicans are famous for their large bill, the lower portion of which has a pouch which may be greatly extended.
The birds, depending almost entirely on fish for food, scoop up quantities of water into their pouches as they seize prey from salt water. As the bill is elevated the water dribbles from the mandibles, and the pouch contracts as fish are swallowed. Five pounds of fish a day is the average consumption of a one-month old pelican.
Get more information on the brown pelican HERE and information on birds of Louisiana HERE. The brown pelican is making a comeback from being an endangered species.
~ text from the Louisiana Secretary of State website
Top photo: Louisiana Oil Spill April 29, 2010, by Gerald Herbert
Second photo: Brown Pelicans photographed in 2009 at Salt Bayou near Slidell, LA, by Scott Threlkeld