Minor Hours

By Matt Steel
25 March 2022

i. terce

Who needs an alarm clock with Heraclitus rattling around in your head, muttering about fire and kindling? “The coming-in, the going-out,” he chants. “Waxing white, dwindling red.” And what’s this about measures and eternity? Music, it seems – the meter of endlessness. Fine, old man, I’ll bite now that you’ve woken me. I’ll listen for the rhythm, try to get the hang of it. I’ll listen and hope without expectation for any kind of sense because expecting, says experience, is kerosene for heartbreak. Even the life that assumes nothing is prone to shattering. So this is prayer number one, Lord: help me hold it together.


ii. sext

I am a stone bowl full of sunlight on a dusty sill. And You? You are Love. Before You conceived me, I was nowhere and nothing. I had no part in that Love-making. A sketch, an idea, an essence, maybe – but unformed and, if conscious, unremembered. “So re-member,” says Merton from the chair by my window. “Remember that Love is your reason. Love is your identity. Love is your name.” That I am something, anything, and in some days and certain lights somewhat lovely, shining at the cracks, has nothing to do with me and everything to do with You.


iii. none

Only nothing has nothing to do with everything.


iv. compline

Wonder of wonders, danger of dangers. I draw close to You when I look in the face of my love, see through the fault lines, the lineage of pain and the looming death, glimpse the blaze behind her dark eyes and say, There you are. My God, You are beautiful. I can’t hold the gaze. She is more than single. I speak one name and two answer. I cup her hand – so light, so lightly – I cradle our Source. I look through the well to the Upwelling. Not a stranger but the God we’ve always known. “For now, be glad you can only glimpse,” says the water. “Be content with what the bucket draws. In time, out of time, you will have enough and more.”