Vespers II, A Deep Exhale

Aug 14, 2020

Today’s reflection is another in the series by Debra Donnelly-Barton and offers a beautiful way to end the week and welcome the weekend. Debra continues to inspire with these “Litany of the Living Earth” reflections and today she continues her Vespers series. She has presented several retreats at our Center and we look forward to hosting her again in the future. Let’s take a few quiet moments to read about her next reflection on the vesper light.

A Liturgy of the Living Earth

Praying the hours in tune with nature

Summer Meditations

Vespers II, A Deep Exhale

O send out your light and your truth;

   let them lead me;

let them bring me to your holy hill

   and to your dwelling.

Then I will go to the altar of God,

   to God my exceeding joy;

and I will praise you with the harp,

   O God, my God.

-Psalm 43

Lucernarium, literally “lamp-lighting time” in Latin was an early name for Vesper prayer. St. Benedict, however, preferred evening prayers to begin before the necessity of lighting lamps. Twilight skies indicated the time to pause and move toward the altar of God.

In many psalms and prayers we are invited to ascend toward higher ground; to move up with eyes and hearts and minds. Vespers closes out the workday. Our efforts to make and do culminate here. We have climbed the mountain of the day and are invited to come and rest upon its summit.

Last fall, while I visited Toronto, we discovered a nature trail winding through woods to the shore of Lake Ontario.

The descent ran alongside a gentle stream and wound through leafy shade trees. Occasional glimmers of the lake encouraged our downward hike. We were enchanted by our time at the shore. We collected smooth rocks and made sculptures with them to leave behind for the next visitors.

And then— it was time to go back to the car at the top of the cliff, burdened with our very heavy treasures. At first it was easy even though quite steep. It will not surprise you to hear that soon it wasn’t easy anymore. The steady climb challenged already tired muscles. There were many pauses. I created small goals so that I could keep going. I took the ascent in increments.

While I had enjoyed the beach, I longed only for the car. Once there relief flooded my whole body, and gratitude for the end of the hike softened my feelings about the struggle to get there.

This is Vesper prayer—a deep exhale at the end of the day. Whatever engaged us during work hours can now be left here at the illuminated dwelling of God. Our praise takes the shape of thanksgiving for rest and restoration.


Tonight come to your Vesper prayer offering the happenings of the day. Light a candle and sit within its illumination. For what are you grateful today? Is there something you would like to offer to the gentle love of Christ?