It comes after the Glory To‘s, and the So Be It/Make It So/Amen that is our affirmation that such glory is the right response to God’s graciousness and eternal presence.
But nothing in those words says we have to be happy about any of this. Nothing says giving God glory is a joy, an honor, a privilege, and something we love. The wonder and elation that we are blessed to offer God the glory is summed up in a word that is hard to define exactly, but is almost universally understood:
Perhaps the reason we don’t say it during Lent is to remind us that we can choose a joy-filled or a joyless life. It’s our call.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. [Book of Common Prayer, p. 103]
And is usually a filler or a connecting word. When we are at a loss for words, trying to remember the seventh item on our never-written-down to-do list, or still in the process of figuring out exactly how many persons/places/things are involved, and leaves the end open. And means it isn’t quite nailed down, not quite finished yet.
And means there’s more to the story: not just an officiant, because no one worships God in solitude – even when alone, there’s the communion of saints that surrounds us all through space and time. And means God’s creative, loving presence wasn’t just a past reality: now and for all the nows to come, God will continue to hold us all in love.
And means that God comes to us in multiple forms, even while always being God: it means we recognize that our language is too small to offer more than a passing glimpse of God, even with a trinitarian understanding.
And means there will always be more to life than we can experience or grasp. If we kept this in mind every time we used or heard this most common of words, I doubt we’d be anything but amazed. And grateful.
[An Order of Service for Noonday, Book of Common Prayer, p. 103]
The middle of the day doesn’t usually lend itself to extremes in the same way that the middle of the night might – or early in the morning, for that matter. The day is moving along its usual course, leaving the extremes in favor of moderation. By noon, there doesn’t seem to be enough time or energy to change the general direction of the day; such things can be put off until the next day.
I wonder if this lull in awareness, this willingness to aimlessly keep to the task and the direction already begun might not be the very peril that endangers me: this willingness to disengage from the only holy life I’ve been given as if I had an eternity of days to enjoy the beauty of the world and offer thanks to the loving creator that included me within it.
I’m pretty good about praying at the start of my day and the end of it – perhaps not so good at the in-the-middle. Recently, I joined in on a noonday prayer service. It reminded me that prayers can also happen in the middle of my activities – whether I’m ready to acknowledge God’s presence or not…
Where is the center of the sea? Why don’t the waves break there?
Donde esta el centro del mar? Por que no van allí las olas?
[Pablo Neruda (Sara Lisa Paulson, trans), Paloma Valdivia, illustrator; Book of Questions; New York: Enchanted Lion Books, 2022]
Ocean currents are amazing and mysterious. Surface movement in any direction is balanced out with deep currents going in the opposite direction – and all kinds of movement happens between. Since waves break upon shores, could there be a location where the deep currents are breaking – unseen by our human eyes, at depths beyond our reach?
In Orthodox theology, one of the images for God’s love and creative power is a procession; love and life begin in the Creator, flow through the Spirit and Christ, and out to the farthest reaches of creation. All things receive life and love from their center in God, like waves breaking on the shores of our very being.
If I stick with the wave metaphor, could it be that there is a deep, unseen current that returns even my tiniest offerings of love to the source of all things?