1. the letters of a language in their customary order.
When we visited my parents for Thanksgiving, we exchanged Christmas gifts. One lovely gift that I received and already love is book of Celtic Daily Prayer. It's beautiful inside and out - gorgeous cover, thoughtful words, meaningful content. Many things about it resonate with me, but one of today's readings particularly struck me. It tells the tale of a Jewish farmer who mistakenly is stuck in his field during Sabbath. When his rabbi admonishes him and asks whether he at least spent the time praying, the farmer says, "Rabbi, I am not a clever man. I don't know how to pray properly. What I did was simply to recite the alphabet all day and let God form the words for Himself."
This stopped me in my tracks. I make things so complicated sometimes.
Why not just give God what I have and let him form the words?
Why not give him my small successes (laundry, grocery shopping, home schooling and garlic cheese grits for dinner all in one day), my roller coaster of emotions (content with a quiet morning, thankful for a productive day, excited to have my daughters home, frustrated at their sniping at each other), my good, my bad and especially my ugly. He knows what words need to be formed from the alphabet of my life, from the alphabet of my heart.
I'm trying to be intentional about Advent this year. I figure my girls are old enough to do more than just sing Christmas Carols with me. They can take turns reading scripture, listen to me read A Little History of the World to better understand what the world was like when Jesus was born, read Monday compline with me. I'm lighting every candle we have, trying to make our environment beautiful and thoughtful. I want the letters that comprise my alphabet to be ones that show my great anticipation in this season - for Christmas Eve's traditions, for Christmas morning's celebration, for Christ's return one day.
But here's the thing - the farmer didn't even construct words with the alphabet. He simply offered them, as they were and trusted God would know what to do with them. Even as I write this post, I'm trying to make my own words instead of just saying the alphabet of me over and over. I want to be able to let God write my story instead of trying so desperately to wrestle the pen from his hand. I want to have my alphabet on my lips and nothing more. Nothing more.