Intimate speech and ascesis for depth (1 Samuel 1; James 1) (Monday after Trinity Sunday, Book of Common Prayer lectionary)
‘And Hannah was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore…but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life… Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.’
In our passage, the importance of when individuals and a culture can speak intimately to God is shown. This intimacy - telling our needs with honesty and where we are - is in important contact point with the Sacred. It is a point of contact of healing for our internal history, and History itself. It is through the Hannah-type of intimate prayer that we and history are being recovered for God’s grace.
In the letter of James, an other dimension of this intimacy is revealed. ‘Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.’
Overcoming ‘superfluity’ is crucial in transforming human life and History, our collective abode. James calls for ascesis (self-denial, self-discipline), that is, the ‘depth’ for the mind, heart, and soul. Then shall we be able to pray intimately, as Hannah did, for new life.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..