On Mondays I have been sharing a few of the prayers from our new book “From the Psalms to the Cloud — Connecting to the Digital Era” (Mankin and Tirabassi, Pilgrim Press). We would love to sell books and ebooks, yes, but mostly I am just enthusiastic about the diversity of prayer and thought that emerged from the forty-six contributing writers.
So, I thought I would share this prayer just before Lent because it is about time. Except sometimes things seem right and this prayer spoke to me this Sunday afternoon as I amd setting up the Monday post. Kipp Gilmore-Clough of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote a prayer out of his hobby.
Well. Hobby. We pray because our hearts are moved or folks ask us to pray or we are in a spiritual discipline or at church or because we are clergy and we always want to lift the incredible resource of prayer into the consciousness of people. But hobby?
Listen to his explanation…
“The idea that gave birth to this transformed into conscious prayer my participation in a favorite hobby: home brewing. There are monasteries that have supported themselves for centuries through the brewing of beer, and Martin Luther is said to have utilized the caloric content of strong beer to sustain himself during lengthy fasts. If Jesus turned water into wine, then perhaps there are intrinsic spiritual possibilities in the transformation of barley, hops, water, and yeast into beer, though the alchemy is different.
It is not only the thaumaturgy that differs between home brewing and the miracle at Cana, however. The home brewer’s final key ingredient is time. The initial outlay involves preparing the pot and other equipment, and giving a few hours over to steeping, boiling, transferring the mix into the fermenter. All must be done with care and attention. After the yeast is added comes the waiting. It may take a couple of weeks for the yeast to do its job, working through the grainy water to digest the extra sugars and morph into beer. Over this time, providing that it has been properly sealed and attended to, it may be forgotten about—but it does not stop working. Thus has a hobbyist’s endeavor become a metaphor for the movement of the Spirit: with proper tending and care, something bracing comes forth that is ultimately beyond the brewer’s ability to entirely control. And, as with the end product of home brewing, the best part lies in the sharing.”
A HOME BREWER’S PRAYER
Wild and yeasty God, you who image your realm in a lump of leaven, let your spirit work its fermentation within me. Grant me the grace to pay proper attention, to undertake the labors that help lay the conditions that make possible your invisible work. And as my brews usually do, God, surprise me with the unpredictable directions of your leavening, the transmutation of good into good, of work into delight, of life into sharing. Amen.
As I sit here, a recovering alcoholic with many years of sobriety, it’s not the beer that touches me in this prayer … I steep my tea, bake my bread, say the kind word that may later rise into a friendship … it is Kipp’s trust in God and the brewer’s art in each of us.