john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Heaven in Ordinary #4

    BBC Radio Merseyside Thought for the Day 23/8/2007

    This week I'm talking about the idea of Heaven in the Ordinary. It was the sixteenth-century priest and poet George Herbert who coined the phrase, 'Heaven in Ordinarie'. It is a line in one of his poems which is simply entitled 'Prayer'.

    So Heaven in Ordinary is one way of describing what prayer is.

    Maybe the poet had in mind those sorts of prayers we pray in the middle of everyday life: prayers while travelling: God help me get through this airport without any problems, prayers while working: God give me strength to meet all my commitments today, prayers on seeing our loved ones leave the home: God bless them, we'll miss them, keep them safe.

    There are collections of prayers from the ancient people of the British Isles - the Celts - who would have special prayers for getting washed, or making the bed or lighting the fire. And there are contemporary writers of prayers, such as the Austrailian cartoonist Michael Leunig who every day publishes in a national newspaper his witty and insightful prayers about, for instance, the wonder and mess of human hair, or the significance of handles.

    We encounter heaven in the ordinary in all sorts of ways - a child's question, a youngsters' giggle, a glance, a surprise, a kind deed. Heaven in Ordinary: it's that moment when you find yourself welling up, simply because someone has touched you on the arm. Heaven in Ordinary: it's there all the time if you want to look out for it.