“Then Pertelote began to recognize one of the sounds—and she was filled with wonder. Slowly, slowly she lifted up her head. She looked toward the forest. Then she sat up, astonished. There, on the topmost limb of the tallest tree, stood Chauntecleer, his wings wide like an eagle’s. He was crowing lauds as lauds had never been crowed before. The tree dipped and swayed from the impact, but Chauntecleer rode the motion and crowed: Lauds was his challenge to the hidden fury of the river, to Cockatrice.”Wangerin Jr., Walter. The Book of the Dun Cow (p. 203). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.
This passage from Walter Wangerin’s fable, The Book of the Dun Cow, comes at the crisis moment. The story itself is a fable about a chicken coop comprised of a variety of companions and vilians. The coop is ruled by its rooster, Chaunticleer, among whose duties is to crow the canonical hours of the day. Each morning at dawn, Chaunticleer rises and crows lauds which is the prayer that is prayed at dawn. This is the context of the quote.
The striking thing about it in this passage is that this morning is the morning of the battle of which the entire story has been moving. Cockatrice, the demon-dragon has come to attack the chicken coop and destroy its community. Even though this is the battle morning, Chaunticleer does what he has done every morning time out of mind. He crows lauds. This small thing in the face of a really big thing makes all the difference for me. (I think it was Tish Harrison Warren’s book, Liturgy of the Ordinary which first brought this story and event to my attention, but I cannot trace it out. All that’s to say, I’m not the first to put these two together.) In seasons of “hidden fury,” the daily, unchanging, ordinary, small, unacknowledged, discipline becomes an an anchor for us. The simple act of rising at dawn and saying your prayers may not seem to be the biggest thing you will do any day, but over days, weeks, months, and years, you may likely look back and conclude that the simple activity of daily prayer was the biggest thing you did over the course of your life.
At Grace, we want to do significant, special, important works, but we also want to be the kinds of people who are shaped by small disciplines. We may not have opportunity to stand out and be praised or thanked for a great achievement, but we can and want to be the kinds of people who are tending to the daily habits which God has called us to and to which he has promised promote blessing.
One of the ways we are trying to do this is something called Ordinary Prayer. Through the season of Ordinary Time, Pastor Randy is leading a thirty minute prayer time in which we pray the ordinary prayers of God’s people, the Psalms. Each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we gather via Zoom, read that day’s psalm and pray for one another and the church. We hope you can join us. See Pastor Randy for the Zoom link.