For years I've been longing to be in a place where I could pop over to Church and pray Matins or Vespers daily. Not by myself, but with others in the Church. God has blessed me and answered that prayer, and it is so comforting and wonderful.
Even though I feel like a stranger in this city, when I walk into St. George's Chapel, and it's still dark outside and it is literally lit only by candle light and oil lamps, I am no longer a stranger. There is a deep human need to know and be known, and there at least I get to see the icons of my Christ, and the Theotokos, St. John the Wonderworker, St. Raphael of Brooklyn, and many others. Familiar faces, even though the ones in the flesh around me are still mostly strangers.
And familiar melodies, although to a different rhythm mixed with familiar lines and unfamiliar tunes, blend with enough insence to scent my yawns afterwards. Lungs full.
And it is in such a place that I am known and that I can know. Even after just a week the faces around me are becoming familiar and are becoming attached to names and stories and personalities. Knowing others, and becoming known is a process. Having a cup of coffee with others afterwards helps, too.
But there's this other aspect of daily prayers that I really like: The way it ties my day together, beginning and end. Not too long to be impractical: just thirty minutes at 7 am and thirty minutes at 6 pm, a nice frame to the day. And it's an extra support for my feeble heart, who surely needs it, for the private prayer life I struggle to cultivate.
It's a good thing.