Some bagels didn’t quite make it into the house. It was a bag of nice garlic bagels, which in a flurry of other activity somehow got left on the deck — overnight and unsealed.

The thing about modernity that isn’t often addressed is that it has made the whole bunch of us pansies. A hundred years ago my forebears regular ate things left outside. Indeed, they grew the things, left them outside for a whole season, stored them, and ate whatever the rats didn’t get to.

Of course, people in the past got sick and often died at young ages so there is something to be said about the fastidiousness of our present civilization.

I am a product of my generation and so bagels left out overnight, unsealed, even though still soft and edible are rather unpalatable. Rather than bring them in, I left them outside. There were six bagels in the bag. I put three of them around the yard, and went back inside.

I didn’t see any interest, but by the next morning all three were taken, so I put out the three remaining.

These three I took and put around the yard in more conspicuous spots. One on a stump by the driveway, another on a stump by the house, and the third on a rail. For the wee beasties you know.

In the afternoon I took the dog for a walk. The bagel on the rail was gone. The bagel on the stump by the house was gone, but a pile of crumbs was left.

The bagel on the stump by the driveway was eaten around the edges.

The jays and chickadees were active that afternoon. The squirrels were foraging, mixing business and play. A chipmunk ran by me, not three feet away, on its way from the woodpile to its favorite fallen tree. And a raven was on the side of the hill, poking around, wary of me though not overmuch.

Later that afternoon I went outside again and the bagel on the stump was totally gone. And two ravens were sitting in a nearby tree. One flew over my truck around sunset.

The next day three ravens buzzed the kitchen window, flying under the branches, around the trees.

Curious, I thought. Ravens are around, but generally not thataround.

I took a bagel from the pantry –just to see, you know — and put it on the rail of my bedroom balcony.

This morning I woke up and looked outside. A raven picked that moment to land on a branch outside my window, and look around. He hopped to another branch, then hopped back.

After a minute he hopped onto the balcony rail, picked up the bagel in his beak and flew away.

Curious thing, that. I put out the bagels for the wee beasties and got myself some ravens.

Psalm 147:9 He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.

Ravens like bagels. Who knew? To be honest I’m glad I found this out. In a book on ravens I have the author used roadkill to attract some ravens to his home.

Garlic bagels are a lot easier to come by and a lot less repulsive to put around the house.

Ravens are big birds, by the by, and take up rather more space on the balcony than do the jays or chipmunks. It was only one raven though I suspect this house will be raven watched from now on.

I fear for Huginn lest he fare not back,-
Yet watch I more for Muninn

And they watch for bagels.

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed something. Prayer. A year and a half ago when I came here I would wake up in the morning and want to write. I would get up before dawn and write a couple thousands words, feeling only then content. More than content I would feel joy and fullness. There was no middle ground. Not writing brought discontent and depression, writing brought joy and fullness. So I wrote.

It is still like this in a way, not writing during the day is as bad as not exercising. It fills and fulfills, though I do not write as much as I did then nor do I wake up and feel immediately prompted to get to writing.

No, now it’s something else. I wake up and I want to pray. I go through my day and I want to pray. When I spend time in prayer my soul eases and my heart feels rest. I feel jittery and frantic if I do not pray. This is unusual for me, because while I’ve long valued prayer, I’ve long not been a person of prayer.

Prayer has always been difficult, especially when I am alone. I wrestle through the times of prayer, and easily let go the discipline of it. My first couple of years at Wheaton were times in which prayer burst out of me, and it seems like that same burst is happening again.

Prayer does not come as naturally as writing to me, however. In seminary I was forced to write, and write a lot, each day, each week, filled with various projects, most emphasizing writing.

I wasn’t taught to pray in seminary, nor pushed to pray, nor made to spend time in prayer. For one class I was… but this was an elective class that only took up one quarter. It was a grand quarter but the discipline slipped away.

Seminary was an intellectual exercise, not a spiritual training. Which is curious of course, as the spiritual long has been intertwined with the intellectual in historic Christian training. Study yes… but also pray the Divine Office.

So, now I wander the fields of more training, with prayer now filling and pushing me, not simply to pray but to shape my day through prayer.

Only I’m not very good at it. It is like running when one has only ran sporadically and periodically. I tire quickly and lose heart, pushed to carry on only because my soul demands it, finding fullness and joy when I accede to my soul’s insistence.

I note this mostly because it seems to be a dramatic change in my own emphasis, like the old semester ended and I have new classes to work on. This has also meant my reading has changed. I have gone from more literary selections, and selections about literary selections, to the old writings, reading the great books of spirituality as though they were water for my parched soul.

It’s a new season, and has been for a while, I just haven’t noted how much change has occured.

God is doing a work, and when he does a work he pulls us into the directions he yearns for us to go, giving us light or letting us stay in darkness so that we become sensitive to his leading and sensitive when he is not leading.

We are mice really, all in our maze, learning to do that which brings food and learning not to do that which gives a little shock. The problem is there’s a whole industry of folks who say getting shocked is part of the mice life. We are supposed to endure the shocks, embrace the shocks, revel in them.

All the while we’re just supposed to get through our maze and eat the food that is there for us.

It’s not that hard really… if we just learn to react to the stimulii as we should.

So, I write less and learn to pray more because that’s the direction this present maze has taken, finding myself walking in directions I wouldn’t have thought and interacting with people who likewise reflect the beauty of God’s work in their souls. In this is another delight of prayer.

“Where else am I to go Lord?”