Saturday, May 1, 2010


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.

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



Melinda said...

I was listening to that same NPR article, I believe Lydia. This is such a huge tragedy for the wildlife in the gulf and also a disaster for the fishermen who rely on clean water for their livelihood.

Perhaps this is a wake up call--that off-shore drilling really is not the answer (I was never for it--as I always thought there was a potential for great disaster to the environment--and I was surprised that Obama embraced it at all).

That is so wonderful that the Brown Pelican has made a comeback!

Take care,


Looking to the Stars said...

you are right, the call for help from the depth of the soul makes all of us stand at attention and go into action.

I'm with Melinda, I agree about the off shore drilling and think its great that the Brown Pelican has made a comeback

Nancy said...

My heart is so heavy for what is going on in the Gulf. Maybe if we all ask for help at one time, the universe will send it.

Lydia said...

Melinda~ Ditto on all you said. I figured that when Obama made that decision in March he did so for purely political reasons, because it is inevitable if he were to lose re-election. I want him to change course. Have you written to/called the White House yet? I have not, and it's on my agenda for Monday.

Looking to the Stars~ Ditto on all you said, too. This is hard to take...the resurgence of a bird that now has hell to get through in order to survive. How much man asks of nature....

Nancy~ I love your concept about "the universe" hopefully being of help. That's how I see it too.

Owen said...

If only we could hope that help is on the way, but it sounds like they haven't a clue how to stop the flow coming up from deep in the earth below the sea floor... shades of the Sorcerer's Apprentice...

How arrogant we are to think we can control the natural world... I fear our collective arrogance is going to cost us dearly...

Hattie said...

This is such a distressing thing. Beyond bearing, really.

Lydia said...

Owen~ Your last paragraph says so much. The analogy to the Sorcerer's Apprentice is chilling...and appropriate.

Hattie~ Beyond bearing, really.
There will not be any statement made in the course of time encompassing this disaster that will get to the core of its meaning for and impact on us the way your words here do.

Anonymous said...

Hi dear Lydia!

This is a wonderfully written.
I got a good mind this.Thank you♥

Prayer do not need the fireplace
many words,but small silent prayer heard in heaven.Like you said:
"short prayer pierced the heavens."

Prayers one others.Love and God love be with you always.


Lydia said...

Kata~ Thank you for your fountain of good wishes from Finland. I am so glad that you liked the post and that quote.
Have a wonderful week! xo



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