The vespers


San Francisco, United States

I walk through a park with my former American editor, John Loudon, and his wife, Sharon. We can see the city of San Francisco in the distance, illuminated by the setting sun.
Sharon wrote a book about a Benedictine monastery, and tells us that the afternoon prayers, called vespers, are songs of faith in the certainty that the night will pass.

- The vespers indicate the necessity we have to be near others at nightfall – she says. – But our society has forgotten the importance of this nearness, and pretends to greatly prize each person’s ability to deal with his own difficulties. We no longer pray together; we hide our solitude as if we were afraid to admit it exists.

Sharon pauses, before adding:

- I was like that once. Until one day I lost my fear of depending on my neighbor, because I discovered that he too needed me.

Comments

  1. Arto Hutto says:

    Beautiful,

    This came in my mind.

    “If you are tired or do not dare to walk in front of others, follow in someone else’s footsteps and you will soon discover that others follow in yours.”

  2. Aruna says:

    My mother told me to think good thoughts during sunset as their are angels(Devatas) who are prevalent during this time to make them true by saying – tatastu.

  3. Adriana says:

    Oh my God, I remember you quoted a danish philosopher who said that prayers don’t change GOD but the person praying and it changed my view on prayers. The story is lovely and encouraging, we need to be near people and learn how to depend on them.
    Lots of love
    ADRIANA

  4. huma arshad says:

    In the night i want to be with God i want to feel his presence,i want to talk to him, i want to cry in front of him i want him to console me, i want to laugh ,and want him to give me response, he is my best friend so i want to spend vesper time with Him.As i do not have anyone in this world who can listen to my feelings although i have family and friends but after 8p.m i want to be with my God and want to have a good chit chat with him.

  5. “I was like that once. Until one day I lost my fear of depending on my neighbor, because I discovered that he too needed me.”

    Since St Joseph Party 2009 I began say a little prayer every day at 8 (Melk time) to say thankyou for family and friends; that we find all the strength and inspiration needed for the day ahead.

    By being the prayer, the prayer lives. Thankyou friends.
    Thankyou god for listening. Thankyou angels for protecting my friends and their work. xo

    Love to All,
    Jane

  6. Lai says:

    I am in a group called Vespers. It was formed on our 4th year of law studies. Before embarking on the bar exams, some of us felt the need to go on a spiritual retreat in order to prepare ourselves for the exam. We retreated to a cloister in a place called Caleruega high up in the mountains and went on a silent retreat, no talking to each other for 4 straight days. We thought this retreat was a one-off but the year after we took the bar exams and passed and became full-pledged lawyers, we decided to go for another retreat this time in thanksgiving. And every year thereafter, we found ourselves going back and craving for a few days of silent prayer. It has been 12 years since it all started and we still get together for this silent retreat once a year. Some of us have gotten married, had kids and Vespers has extended to embrace this larger circle of family…

  7. Irina Black says:

    Сильнее смерти лишь Любовь,древней печали-радость будет,а мудрость-пальму первенства..лишь безрассудству и уступит.

  8. Ethel says:

    Dear Yajna,

    I’m a chinese girl,and I can’t speak English very well.

    I just want to tell you,I love your story,and there are more and more Chinese love your story too.

    :)Ethel

  9. THELMA says:

    I have been to google to find out what VESPER means and : It is the Greek word ‘Εσπερινός’! So I know and ‘feel’ exactly what it is. It is also true that the Church celebrates with the ‘ESPERINOS =VESPER’ the dawn of the next day!

    When the people used to work all day long in the fields, the time of Venus was the time to pray, have dinner and rest! It is the time to join our energy and share our fears, tenderness and love.
    LOVE,
    Thelma xxx

  10. Jedida says:

    Wow! I love this!
    for the past few months, having emigrated I have been living with my sister and her two wonderful children whose company i enjoy immensely. But I have also been working at having my ‘own space’, my ‘own place’ not appreciating the gift of their company, especially at night when their company is much needed. Its wonderful and much needed reading this morning,
    Thank you Paulo

  11. Jenny says:

    When I was young, I felt like a burden for others so I learned to be independent and do things on my own, unfortunately I think I’m overdoing it.

    Thanks for posting this and for reminding me that depending or needing others is not so bad after all.

  12. cyclopseven says:

    Society exists because of interdependency, without which nothing can sustain for long. Living in solitude have its own advantages, but somehow or rather there will always be a need to be dependent or interdependent. Life is built on that and it will ever be so.

  13. Appu says:

    Very nice post And a thought within: How many times family eat together now-a-days And I find earlier we as a family used to but now very seldom. Time changed or I/We changed?

  14. katie says:

    “we have to be near others at nightfall”

    I wonder whether vespers is based on a very old tradition: darkness, no lights outside, wild animals …

    (this is what comes into my mind when reading these word. maybe I am connecting to an older life LOL)

    1. aksh says:

      “I wonder whether vespers is based on a very old tradition: darkness, no lights outside, wild animals …” must have been, but they are the negative reasons, i mean to avoid something, there are teh positive reasons also like sharing joy of togatherness. even when science was won over teh negative reasons and they no longer exist, we can always continue for the positive reasons ! ya ?

      luv

    2. katie says:

      of course, aditya, of course!!!!
      big hug to you <3

    3. Satora says:

      Dear Katie,

      the following link is all about vespers…

      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15381a.htm

      Satora

    4. katie says:

      satora. thanks! interesting. but I even mean beyond that time. 20,000, 50,000 years and more..

      I think it is something related to life; this coming together, feeling safe, stopping to be active, enjoying, centering with prayers/rituals. the concept of vesper may be everywhere & its performance may vary.

      I never knew what vesper meant. but as a child, I felt its importance, but in another way that probably a catholic person sees it.

  15. james says:

    Groucho Marx’ comment about not wanting to belong to any club that would have him as a member touches something very deep. How much we all seem to fear being seen as ‘needy’, and how we dread letting ‘needy’ people into our lives. If only we could just have cool friends who didn’t need us at all. But then they wouldn’t want us as friends!

    Tahir Shah recently wrote something very nice that connects with this on his blog:

    “Very often, I scoop up a clutch of random people and drag them home to eat. Few things excite me more than seating half a dozen strangers around the dining table for good food and lively conversation. Rachana (whom I already said insists I have no spam filter on my friends) doesn’t quite understand my craving for people. I think it’s a family thing, ie from my family, something I must have acquired from my father [Idries Shah]. Just like him, I can’t help myself but collect people… the stranger the better.”

  16. rayne says:

    the tenderness reminded me of being a child…contemplating my solidtude…the tenderness reminded me of this moment…embracing my solitude….

  17. Pandora says:

    ‘Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.’ ~Rabindranath Tagore

    Perhaps Nightingales are nature’s Vespers?

  18. Csilla says:

    It is when we no longer fear death that we truly begin to live and the same could be said for solitude since we are never truly alone. I believe that Sharon lost the need to be with others when she lost her fear. The key is in losing or letting go of the fear.

  19. Jojo says:

    I read and am going out for an errand and stay with those words …
    Love, Jojo.

  20. Marie-Christine says:

    Ve S Pers
    I see a heart of a person
    I see both sides
    The masculine and the feminine.

    1. rayne says:

      yes…both facets…intertwined in a dance which casts the perfect shadow in our journeys…

  21. Liina.L says:

    It makes a difference. Is the sharing is outer, aka what seems to be, or inner, aka as it is.

    As Yajna said… she prayed with others, together, but in the end she felt like she was praying on her own, still.

    We don’t have to do anything to be accepted, we don’t have to give any outer reasons nor acts to be accepted. We are loved – the way we are, for who we are.

    Sometimes we forget that.

    I’ve felt like a lone wolf for most of my life. I can’t really explain why.

    There’s a struggle for some of us, to actually see/feel we’re needed, and even more, that we need others.

    There’s a big difference of BEING together, or BEING IN A MASS surrounded by people and souls. I can’t explain better, but I am sure my thoughts will reach you.

    ~*~*~*~

    I have seen that people whom I meet, I meet for a reason. They teach me something, or show me something that I was blind to see before, and/or vice versa. Often it changes both of us and our lives/journeys.

    If it does not happen right away we’re at some point shown that it really is so.

    I had not been thinking about it for a while, until the end of last year and the beginning of 2011. I realised now that the meaning of journey is to see changes, and to be in it, and to love what is in and around you and believe in it – to go with the flow. There has been a change in me, I have not been able to be as I am now because of different reasons, which are irrelevant, because I will never know all of them, and I don’t need to.

    I’ve always felt of best strategy to remain unpartial to keep my sanity, so to say. Then realizing, it is really a strategy of defence – as I am not letting anyone close so that I wouldn’t get hurt any more. Who are we protecting ourselves from? Life?

    Dear lord… and I laugh. How silly we can get to stop us from living.

    The wall was tore down, and I found myself in another state where none of these things mattered, like status, respectfulness, pride…

    ~*~*~*~

    SHARING THE INNER is what makes all the difference. If we do things for outer reasons we get other stuff… but as always, everything teaches you something. Even if you don’t want to see it.

    ~*~*~*~

    I see you, friend, and I never want to close that other eye of mine.

    Love,
    L.

  22. mariana says:

    “Bate şi ţi se va deschide. Cere şi ţi se va da. Caută şi vei găsi.”
    Noul Testament

    Nu cred că Dumnezeu vrea singurătatea vreunui om. Sunt oameni singuri, însă sunt dintr’aceia care ei înşişi şi’au ales singurătatea, spre liniştire şi contemplare.
    Dumnezeu nu ne-a adus pe lume pentru a fi singuri. El Insuşi permanent ne poartă de grijă, ne-a dat un înger păzitor care să ne vegheze, ne-a dat o familie, prieteni etc. Cu toate acestea, sub o formă sau alta, toţi ajungem să cunoaştem singurătatea la un moment dat. Se întamplă astfel pentru că ea reprezintă, de fapt, o expresie a universului nostru interior, şi nu una a locului sau stării în care ne aflăm. Aşa ne explicăm cum mulţi ajungem să ne simtim singuri, între alţi oameni, pe când un pustnic, în izolarea sa, se află în comuniune cu toţi şi cu toate.
    Nu-i de ajuns să fii înconjurat de persoane, ci trebuie să le poţi în inimă şi în sufletul tău, pentru a nu cunoaşte singurătatea.

    Pace în lume, linişte în suflet şi multă dragoste pentru toţi !!!

    Cu multă iubire, Mariana

  23. sara smilekeeper says:

    vespers!wow it is what all this world need.to pray together without looking to the differences that men have made through time.we all need to pray together and hold the hands.to kneel all together body and soul to transform our world of love and peace;dry the tears of those scared children and excile war very far and spread smiles;build again those destroyed mosques and churches,to be all friends.we really need this as we always need you PAULO my great love to all paulo’s friends.love as much as you can because this world needs nothing,but LOVE

  24. Everybody needs them says:

    Francis is my neighbour, so I am in safe hands. Him and his wife are always ready to help. I could not ask for better neighbours,they are great.
    Love
    xx

  25. At west-north in the evening there is the vesper, Venus.
    To confide, to guide out of the night, to trust before you give your soul to someone – the depth to do that is mutual attraction.

  26. kealan says:

    So who is having me over tonight? I will bring the red wine and chips :D

    1. Alexandra says:

      ME!!!! Volunteer…

  27. Alexandra says:

    Wow! So true and so beautiful! Is exactly that way, many think is a shame to get help, but worse, many forgot how great is spending time in family, around a table, having dinner, talking, praying…
    I am so happy I got the best cousin in the world, he often invite me evening to his home family, and we spend great time together. He also helps me more than a brother!
    One thing is still required. To have things in common. Else it would not be so nice.
    I too use to hide my solitude or unhappiness, not always, but it happens.
    Sending everybody lot of love
    Alexandra

  28. aksh says:

    strange how customs are similar across cultures !

    in our village everyone was expecetd to be back by dusk and then lady of teh house used to light a lamp near teh altar and to a small plant of tulsi. my parents maintained that tradition as we moved from town to city to city, and now at our home too we have been able to maintain this tradition more of less.

    world is more and more moving towards loneliness, we have to make an effort to maintain contact with our neighbours.

    banning TV for a day say monday, may be a great help in social interactions.

    love

  29. katie says:

    “we have to be near others at nightfall ..”

    when I was as a child on vacation in the south of germany or austria, I often heard “it’s vesper-time” & the kids went home. the bells from the church rang. the life calmed down.

  30. Olta says:

    Since always I’ve been wondering about this, if has the enough strength to live alone, or if he was created to live among other people like him.
    Since always I’ve asked myself this question, if life was telling me I had to learn to count only in myself and learn or get used to the fact that one day I would live alone.
    Maybe I was just being capricious for wanting to be different, but it seemed that no matter how I saw all this, the idea of living alone was impossible…
    Hay! By that time I couldn’t understand the fact that why life had to be so unfair? Why children had to be a charge to their parents, when we could never had to pay them back for all what they did for us? Too much thinking… Too many questions… I even used to have many headaches because of that by that time. hehehe
    I used to think I was weak!

    Well that’s an answer that will come one day or in a moment… :))) But truth is that we all got this necessity to be near one and other, to love and be loved, to share and receive, for the love I have given in my life has changed me a lot and had made me become another person, but so it has happened because of the love I receive every day from many persons, angels, or God.
    We need to be among others and others need us too.
    I get surprised when I often find out that my neighbor needs me…
    Truth is that this world where we all need each other is much more beautiful, since there is one more reason to share love.
    Like we need and love you Paulo, just like
    I Love and need you too.

    Always grateful that you exist.
    Much love
    Olta

    1. aksh says:

      alone we came and alone we go apparently, yet in between we have the company of others, certainly not to be shunned, but to be loved and to love as u have said.

      love

    2. Anne says:

      its free country, do. play with yourself and write to Paulo about it.
      sure he will love you too!
      Everybody welcum.

    3. Olta says:

      :))))) hahahahaahah
      Yeah sure, free country…
      Everybody and their insanities, welcomed.

      Have a nice day!

  31. Big Zen says:

    This is a very nice point. In many societies, individualism has become too highly prized at the expense of connection and sharing. This leads to suspicion and separation. It is deep within our human nature to be interdependent.

  32. Ca says:

    Bom dia!
    Perdão, por não estar ainda totalmente acordada, não conferi direito se era mesmo o lugar idéal pra postar… Depois que me dei conta, postei em prayers.
    Bjos Paulo, tenha um maravilhoso dia!!
    Meu amor, meu respeito, minha gratidão… E meu sorriso pra vc!

  33. wanbliska says:

    San Francisco, United States

    I usually sleep during the vespers. And I never really understand that kind of life. I mean, we see the Word as we like…
    But I thank them all, as they surely help me so.

    Limoges, France

    I always thought that we are all able to find magic in our own behaviour and own ideas. One of my friend conduced me a to a site, where I could bannish evil things and souls around me. But it frightened me. Although I’m yellow-bellied, the reading don’t mean a thing for me. :) And was so much complicated.
    At last, I prefer to go on praying and making my little “grigri”, the answers Prayer offered me naturally in return, just by intuition.
    Since I pray, I don’t have bad things around me, just inside me, that could be changed. :)
    Magic can be really dangerous.

    I didn’t know you wrote about vampirism and black magic.

    Kawaguchiko, Japan

    Yes, I can understand her quite well. I had a time without God. Not really true. As I was in anger with Him, that was still admitting His existence.
    But after this, I interessed myself in many religions. As I’m not a good pupil, I did it in a compulsive manner. Yet, that brings me to Wakan Tanka that gives me a feeling I never had, just like I was pronouncing Her name.
    Whatever we can say, the best way to be close to God, is indeed to give in sharing with each other. Like transmuting the Energy He gave to us in offering it around, without awaiting for return.

    Lourdes, France
    “You are better, do not worry – she said. – In fact, when we light up our inner light, the first things we see are the cobwebs and dust, our weak points. They were there all the time, only you saw nothing in the darkness. Now it will be easier to cleanse your soul”.

    This is where I am! That’s all true, and I thank you, for those yesterday’s words blew by the guilt I had, from expressing anger for two days.
    I will go on Lourdes on June, but that time, not towards merchant’s roads.
    God bless you.

    Have a pretty evening.

    Love to all of you.

  34. David Taylor says:

    The insight from your experience in San Francisco was a powerful reminder of the importance of connection. Yes we travel our own paths but being a ‘Lone Ranger’ doesn’t work (even he had Tonto with him!!!). Family,Nature,Community,Civic and ‘Business’ (whatever that means for each of us) networks are all part of our journey and we need to be clear about our connection with each. Each will flex, flow and change over the years but we are never far away from them.
    Thank you for the connection Paulo.

  35. Liara Covert says:

    I really like the reminder that tools we acquire along our journey aren’t meant to be crutches. We are each our own guides. Wisdom grows alongside faith and courage, which themselves help extinguish self-doubt.

  36. Agnieszka says:

    Beautiful Yajna!, what you did was beautiful, I am out of words.
    <3
    lots of love to you
    Agnieszka

  37. Alexandra says:

    One have not the power to appreciate the importance of a thing, till one do not lose it.You may not find so bright the light, till you do not come out from a hell.It is humane nature.The experiences you are writing about shows exactly this idea.I am glad to agree with, but I also respect relligions,even if are made by men and may not amswer to all the questions on the world.I think is more pleasant to live among people, than ritered,and to try to help and also to have the power to ask for help when you need it. Good theme.

  38. Yajna says:

    Oh wait, i forgot to add.. The point of my story is, that although you may feel vulnerable, unsure of yourself, and maybe even scared at first, it is alright, but don’t let it prevent you from taking someone’s hand, and praying for them, talking to them and making them see that they are loved, and beyond all logic, hope exists. Although, it remains prayer is personal, it does not have to be all the time. Prayer as a union, is extremely powerful and uplifting.

    lots of love
    Yajna

  39. Yajna says:

    Dearest Paulo and friends,

    i’d like to talk about the first story a bit, specifically about praying. I always felt that praying is very personal as it is your communication with God. I guess i’ve been praying so long by myself, that i forgot how incredible and uplifting it is to pray with someone. Especially someone who is in need. Allow me to share a recent story with you all- during easter, a group of Christian students at my university decided to have an easter egg drive. They originally aimed at giving easter eggs to children in two different hospitals in our area, but we ended up with so many eggs we could afford to give eggs to everyone in both hospitals to our delight. The day started off, with a morning prayer, and praise and worship. I found it rather inspiring, and it did motivate me, but then too, i felt like i prayed alone.. In a sense. After that we split ourselves up into groups and took different wards in the hospital. I ended up in internal medicine, with patients who were very sick- most of which didn’t have a proper diagnosis and a very grim prognosis. At first a friend and i randomly went to a room.. Greeted the patients, talked a bit, and gave them eggs. Happily thinking i’d done great, i went to see what too the others so long. I found the Christian students, holding patients hands and praying with them deeply, and i watch as when the patient open their eyes, there was a drastic. More hopeful, and far more happier than they were. Suddenly these down sickly patients, had the energy to smile, and laugh, and tell us stories. I started to see the power of praying with others, the power of believing, and helping people to remember that they are loved, and no alone. We came together and sang amazing grace to them, just as we left. We started to move to each room, and suddenly, i started to pray with people, i started to do things that i’d never done before, talking to people and making them smile as they cried that they were going to die. I’d never prayed with anyone out loud before, and i’d never consoled anyone who was dying.. But even though i felt a bit uncertain, once i started, words seem to flow. I started to see, the essence of that trip was not just about eggs, but also about the love of God, and i began to see the power of prayer. Even people of different races, muslims, hindu’s, everyone closed their eyes and we prayed for them, and everyone in each room sang amazing grace with us.. Was rather incredible. And i must admit, i loved every second of it.

    Thank you for being
    Yajna

    1. aksh says:

      Thnak U for being yagna !

      we heard about ‘be the change u want’ ! here we see one !! bravo keep it up.

      for me it’s small ” be teh change u want” i have almost stopped watching TV, although must confess not entirely voluntarily, for my TV was monopolized first by my wife and then between wife and kids. I have another TV attached to home theater, but somehow i have not taken cable connection for that. and i discovered the joy of walking outside, sipping tea with … and enjoying the sunrise, sunset, leaves sprouting, flowering, birds, rains…..

      I believe TV is a major factor in reducing social life. Now even in villages where TV has reached people are becoming more self centered.

      bravo yagna, keep it up !

    2. Liina.L says:

      Thank you, Yajna… I am smiling. :)

      Leaving the boundaries behind, taking a change, going with the flow, and letting the magic of love take over, sharing freely…

      I am glad to be living in this world, at this time, right now…

      Love,
      L.

    3. Barbara says:

      Dear Yajna,

      That is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this story.

      Love, Barbara

  40. Agnieszka says:

    Yes….some things take time to understand, to accept, to embrace. We, human beings try to base our life on this visible reality, not the reality that lives within us, or around us, the invisible one. We want to explain everything, touch it, in order to believe, even our own transition, evolution.
    It takes away the mystery, the beauty, and it doesn’t clear up anything, anyway.
    But we’re not used to trust our senses, or our intuition, and we’re impatient.
    Also, it is so hard for us to accept that the sins are part of life. We want to be better, we don’t want to feel bad inside for doing something we’re not supposed to. It’s hard to change it, because our conscious works all the time and whenever we do something wrong, shameful, something out of the ordinary, we get spooky, and we try to hide from it when it comes our way again. This is actually the most difficult part, because although it is human to sin, we don’t really feel well, when we do that. Question is, how to live and not to be crushed with everything that we do wrong, or think that we did; how to ease up a bit?
    How to accept the destiny, the evolution, and do not rush things? I guess, we can only say that we don’t have a power over it, and that…unexpected is always upon us, and nothing can change that.
    And we can always wish, hope, and pray, and who knows maybe if we smile at life, the life will smile back at us.
    Maybe it’ll send us an invinsible friend…and he’ll take the darkness away.

    love
    Agnieszka