Flowing Streams

Last summer, a group of choir members from St. Alban’s had the opportunity to go to England for a week to be the Choir in Residence at Wells Cathedral. We sang the daily services of Morning and Evening Prayer, and also had the opportunity to sing at Coventry Cathedral and St. Alban’s Abbey, and also with the members of a local parish choir. This week, instead of our Daily Cup offerings, we will hear from four of the participants about that experience and what it meant to them. 

One of the great blessings of St. Alban’s for my husband, Bruce, and me has been Bruce’s membership in the choir. And a special blessing for me has been the opportunity to join him on three pilgrimages with the choir to wonderful and sacred places.

Before our July 2012 trip to England , Bishop Eugene Sutton talked with us about the meaning of Pilgrimage. “Be mindful,” he said. Taking that to heart, I decided to attend every worship service and make a special effort to be present to Scripture, the music, prayers, and the sacred spaces. During Evensong and other services, I focused on every reading, every prayer, every hymn. And the daily services at Wells Cathedral became linked together as I looked forward to hearing the next chapters of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, and to the Dean’s solemn “Let us pray” before he wove together messages from the psalms and other readings and brought them into prayers for our world. That daily discipline quickly became a part of me.

Being present in worship made me present to other experiences during the trip. In Wells, water flows constantly from underground wells and down small gutters along the roads.  Originally meant to wash away debris, the water now runs beautifully clear. Watching the water during my walks through the town became a meditation as I thought of the many years it had flowed. Just as the Dean’s Evensong prayers connected Ephesians and Corinthians to our concerns in the year 2012, the flowing water in turn brought biblical passages to mind—of the Samaritan woman at the well, of Jesus changing water into wine. Wells were once gathering places for people. And this Cathedral and this Pilgrimage served as a gathering place as we came together each day for worship, devotions, and fellowship.

One of the poems in the book With You is the Well of Life by Canon Precentor of Wells Cathedral Patrick Woodhouse takes its inspiration from Psalm 42, which also provided inspiration for one of the anthems sung at the Cathedral by the choir: Herbert Howell’s “Like as the Hart Desireth the Waterbrooks.” I’d like to share the poem with you here.                                                  — Robin Rudd

A deer longs for flowing streams

A deer longs for flowing streams,

So longs my soul for you, O God.

Psalm 42:1

In the silence and beauty

of this house of prayer

we offer you ourselves,

O God,

in all our complexity and need.

You know the longings of our hearts;

our hunger for acceptance,

our need for understanding,

our search for recognition,

our desire for love;

A deer longs for flowing streams,

So longs my soul for you, O God.

O God,

You are the Lover of Souls,

the root and spring of all grace;

Look with compassion

on the arid emptiness of our lives,

And teach us what it means to desire you

not just through the restrained formalities of religion

but with the passionate intensity of a thirsty animal.

And when we find you,

elusive God,

give us to drink from that well of life

which gushes up like a living stream

from the heart of Jesus Christ,

who is our Life,

our Love,

and our Lord.

Amen.

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One Response to Flowing Streams

  1. Jo says:

    Wonderful, Robin. Thank you for articulating the beauty of mindfulness and the flow of Living Water in our lives.

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