Many of the participants in the global vigil of massed intercessory prayer for my son back in 1998 reported afterwards that the vigil had been an important experience in their spiritual lives. We heard many stories of deepened faith, and indeed even a conversion or two, or new awakenings of faith long dead. The hour wasn’t at all noteworthy for me, qua prayer, because I was totally absorbed that day in the scutwork of caring for my son at the hospital, and in my anxiety over his condition. So I was impressed by some of the reports that we later heard.
Which leads to the question, What happened to you during the prayer vigil for Lawrence Auster? Not that anything should have; most sessions of prayer are rather dry, I find; and if we approach prayer hoping for some sort of emotional payoff, we have got the whole thing backwards. But it is an interesting question, and it would be interesting to hear what did happen for you, or didn’t.
I spent very little of the vigil actually being still and praying. Almost none. It was a very busy time in our household, for reasons having to do with cats. But I prayed intently a number of times during the hour – perhaps ten? And I found the evening more and more suffused with that well-remembered feeling of deep peace that began to pervade my days during a three week trip to Great Britain with my boyhood choir of men and boys. We substituted for cathedral choirs on summer vacation, and sang at least three rehearsals and two services a day in those vast holy spaces, redolent of centuries of worship, full of graves. After a few days of observing this quasi-monastic round, we all found ourselves talking more quietly, smiling more, loving the world more attentively. We were still silly, as young men are, and horsed around a fair bit, falling into rivers and that sort of thing. But life, even silly life, became a grave and joyful celebration. The longer we kept at it, the deeper and sweeter it got. The music in particular penetrated us all with peculiar power. I remember thinking, “so this is what monasticism is about.”
The vigil brought that back, strongly. No grand epiphanies, no flashes of insight, just a sweet affection for the world and all her members, and a happy gratitude to God for having granted them to me.