|When traveling in Africa, at prayer times, Seraphim enters a village and the villagers
always offer him a prayer mat to use as he faces East to pray.
The late Fr. Alexander Schmemann remarked that the history of the West is a history of radical discontinuities while the history of the East is one of radical continuities.
Every spiritual force inevitably decays as it moves away from its original source. Living a life hidden in prayer brings us back to the original Source. The Prayer Rope is our spiritual umbilical cord keeping us connected to our source and destination.
St. Simeon Skete's Three-Stranded Prayer Rope constitutes the very essence of religion and is the environment in which that essence is best expressed.
Along with this there are two simple yet profound practices of the Skete that keeps us in that "east continuity" :
|Pictured is the compass that Seraphim has carried since a boy and used to find the direction of East while praying
Your prayer space should be such as you're facing east. We go about the world saying Office, reclaiming real estate for God with a certain direction in mind, east:
"Look toward the east and behold that
joy that cometh unto thee from God. For
as the lightning cometh out of the east,
and shineth even unto the west; so shall
also the coming of the Son of man be.
Lift up your heads; for your redemption
draweth nigh" - Baruch 4:36; Mt. 24:27;
From apostolic times Christians have turned in prayer toward the east and in facing that direction have bowed to God. St. Basil the Great (329-379) stated: "Therefore we all look to the east during prayer, but few know that we are in search of our original home, Paradise, which God planted in the Garden of Eden, to the east" (Gen. 2:8). The invoker's compass points unwaveringly to a direction from which our expectation of hope is to appear. A single geographical direction for prayer transforms the entire earth into one vast place of prayer. Ultimately, we face not a direction, but toward a place of surrender - the heart (Mt. 6:6; Lk. 17:21). The heart bowing itself in this direction experiences a profound singleness. As the intellect gives way, the heart is raised to God, seeing all prayer as turning this way in surrender.
May we go throughout the world creating sacred space through our "yes" to God; may we with right intention face east, say the words, perform the actions with care and say, "It is good for us to be here" (Lk. 9:33)
2. Entering and Leaving a Sacred Space
Enter with your left foot saying:
"I've come to remember the Name"
"I've come to take refuge in the Name"
(Ps. 20:7; Ex. 20:24; Zeph. 3:12)
Leave with your right foot saying:
"I go in the Name of the Lord,
IAM sends me as a chosen vessel
to bear His Name and you shall call
His Name Jesus..."
(Ps. 124:8; Ex. 3:14; Acts 9:15; Mt 1:21)
The left side is closest to the heart so we bring our heart into the place of worship first. We leave on our right foot so that the heart is the last to leave (the first to enter and the last to leave) reminding that our heart is always there - always at the place of worship.
May you as you can, take up this practice.