I have been thinking a lot about “Rogation Days” lately. Rogation Days in the Anglican Communion is celebrated on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before The Feast of Ascension and then the Sixth Sunday in Eastertide is Rogation Sunday. These are the days in the Anglican Communion in which we pray for the blessing of bountiful harvests of those who work with the land, for the earth and the seas and for our place as good stewards. There are prayers offered for seeds, for animals, for tools, for water and for rain. As time has gone on, I think perhaps the strict agricultural blessing has widened in some areas and even includes an idea of praying and being grateful for all the fruits of labor within humanity.
This custom began in about the fifth century England (most sources put this tradition coming from France originally). From my understanding, this often involved “beating the bounds”: walking the boundary of parish lands. This procession often included figures of Pontius Pilate in the form of a dragon, Christ in the form of a lion, and varying images of Saints.
Some in the Episcopal Church have pointed out that “beating the bounds” points to boundaries in general for life, even in our modern times….I have pondered this. Does having a rogation heart mean I am to ask myself if I am using boundaries in order to have a healthy life? Am I using boundaries in order to expend my energy on what is closest to my heart in caring for my family and neighbors? Am I being called to reconciliation as part of setting boundaries?
Another source I read about Rogation Days pointed out that there is something in Rogation Days that reminds us of the Creator and that even Job needed reminding of who created the Cosmos when God finally spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (Interesting commentary on this particular passage here). So, I find myself praying for humility; for the ability to never lose a sense of wonder and awe regarding this wonderful planet and yes, its people too. To have a heart of gratitude. Sometimes we all need reminding of that.
And for some reason, the image that pops into my head when thinking of a rogation heart is that of the sunflower. My favorite flower for summer is the beautiful sunflower. There is nothing like standing in fields of sunflowers in the Deep South of the summer, the sun and humidity beating down on your back with yellow smiling faces as far as the eye can see. Smiling in the sun and the rain and happy to be part of Creation and to be loved by the humans in the fields. May we all have grateful hearts of wonder and find the sunshine in each other.
Thank you for sharing these rich reflections. I will carry them forward into summer in my heart.
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What a perfectly beautiful post! In the expansive, overflowing beauty of summer – how right it feels to take time to express gratitude for our beautiful land and fellow humans and to feel the balancing presence of our boundaries. When I think of boundaries right now, I think of setting boundaries for myself that keep life simple and express contentment with what is.
I am part of a wonderful homeschooling community that feeds my heart and my children’s hearts. More and more I am feeling that what we do in our group and in our family is enough. Reaching for more (more learning, more work opportunities, more experiences…) is not only unnecessary, it’s distracting. The beauty of this time in my life is right before my eyes.
Carrie, in some areas of Britain (including where I live), the beating of the bounds custom still exists: https://dorsetcountymuseum.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/ascension-day-customs-beating-the-bounds/. In Poole, every four years we still beat the sea bounds. Here’s an old film from 1965, in case you’re interested: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/pooles-not-out-of-bounds/query/beating. Tania
Tania – I love this. Thank you so, so much for sharing. I had read it still existed in some parts of Britain, but had no confirmation on that until now!
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