Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thinking about Prayer

I recently found the site which collects prayers from many spiritual traditions and creates some interesting ways to access them. I tried a feature called "Spin the Prayer Wheel" that just displays a random prayer. Here is what displayed:

Wage peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

wage peace - judyth hill - september 12, 2001

This is where my synapses start jamming. I am used to prayer as supplication, as asking or thanking. I find myself drawn to this prayer, but also find myself asking what about it is a prayer? I suppose the writer is instructing us how to pray. And that makes sense. I confess that seeing chaos as dancing raspberries makes my nerve endings grate against sandpaper. I start reacting to this instruction as though it had no truth -- just because it has a phrase or two that reminds me of some airhead hippie handing out a jellybean when people are starving.

There is a thin line between innocent simplicity and triviality.

But then I get all jiggly again -- I get caught in that dreadful place where I start to inhibit joy because there is pain in the world -- yet I also know that to have peace we have to live it --even in those times when to 'live peace' may be an act of defiance.

I suppose if I had one prayer today it would be for a simpler faith. I think the world is not so complex as we would make it. And in making it complex, we muck it up. Lord help me to love more innocently. Help me to unsnarl my life and just live my prayer.

Yet I know that prayer is powerful and communal prayer is BIG. Can it be that if we all simplified, the world would change?

I don't always know where the line is between simple and trivial. But I know that I make things complex, sometimes needlessly so. It may be time to turn my prayer practice into something more simple, less dense, less intricate.

So........Here I sit, breathing out maple trees. Care to help me?


Blogger Ginger said...

I love your statement, "There is a thin line between innocent simplicity and triviality." That describes precisely the issue that has bothered me about the wispy way some people practice their spirituality. I guess my world demands more real, hearty resilience.

Nevertheless, it may be that in demanding a people-of-the-land type of sturdiness we forget to pray quite so often, quite so continuously as those who breathe out maple trees.

Thanks for some good thoughts here. Great illustration picture, too.

12:58 AM  
Blogger alto artist said...

Thank you for this... I think of communal prayer differently; for me it's small, in a way. In a group I can lean on the thoughts of others; when my attention waders, I still feel like the prayer is being carried by the people around me to wherever it has to go. But praying alone--sometimes it feels too intimidating, knowing that no one else but myself is responsible for what God hears at that moment.

9:00 AM  

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