There is something new happening in the Atonement gardens. I’m in them every day with Lily, and I always particularly enjoy seeing who is using our north lawn for rest and recreation. More and more I’m noticing a particular kind of person there: almost every day, I see someone sitting or standing before the statue of the Virgin Mary, quietly offering their prayers. That sweet, unassuming space, carefully curated by the generous and dedicated Rick Velon, is far more than just a place for liturgical lawn art. That space has most assuredly become a local shrine. It is a good and glorious thing that, during this time when our church and many others are closed more than they used to be, our outdoor space has become an important place for prayer for our neighborhood. This is just one example of how Atonement serves our larger community in ways that we sometimes can’t even imagine. Our gardens are a place of beauty and quiet, of hope and prayer, and in these times in which we live, this kind of a space is more than a luxury – it’s a lifeline. I’m imagining that you, too, have found some new places of prayer. Maybe you’re at work or in the grocery store when the alarm goes off at 3:00 pm for our Atonement Daily Prayer. Maybe you’ve designated a part of your living room as a place to pray Morning Prayer or join in our Zoom worship. Maybe you’ve found yourself praying outside more, as you walk your dog (or yourself). Maybe you’re praying more in front of the television, or your computer, or your phone. There is no place on earth too ordinary or mean for prayer. In fact, in the coming days and months, I hope that we will all find more and more places to offer our prayers – at the mailbox and the voting booth, at the pharmacy as we’re getting a flu shot, as we pass by hospitals and schools, rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes, as we sit and talk with the four candidates for diocesan bishop…and maybe even in the gardens.
Where else can you offer your prayers this day? God is leaning in to listen.