Avian Morning Prayer

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The Rt. Rev. Audrey Scanlan, Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, writes about hearing birdsong as she begins her days:

Most mornings, I make it to the gym while it is still dark out and enter into the weird, florescent lit, sweat-tangy scented, hustle and bustle of feet pounding on treadmills, the scraping whir of the rowing machines, flickering television screens and bad 1980s radio playlists. The orange lady at the desk is too pleasant for such an early hour and I try to get past her, with my head down, without having to say much other than “’morning.” I make it to my favorite treadmill and do my thing.

Some mornings — like this morning — I slow down the routine, because it is a “work from home” day and don’t have the pressure of meetings and appointments and people waiting for me show up somewhere at some specific time. I do my best work on these days, writing sermons and letters, catching up on email, taking conference calls in my shorts and t-shirts, and reading theology with a kitten on my lap.

But here’s the point: On these mornings, the slower mornings, I get to hear the morning song. The morning song. Not in every season, but especially in spring and summer, the call of the birds — their first “words” to the world — are what fill my senses and command my attention. Part of the morning routine that I forgot to mention (it happens somewhere between the lighting of the prayer candle and the pushing “brew” on the coffee machine) … part of the routine is opening the back door and the sunroom door to let in the sweet morning air and, on these slower mornings, the morning song of the birds. The morning song only happens at a specific time, each day, choreographed beautifully, to coincide with the rising of the sun.

I sit in my big chair, greeting God on this new day, and the birds have at it.

I say, “Lord, Open our Lips,”

and the birds respond — not with “And our mouth shall proclaim your praise,” but with all sorts of chirps and tweets (the real kind), and caws, and tat-tat-tats, and tweetle, tweetle, tweetle, and chick-a-dee,dee,dees.

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