Saturday, May 3, 2008

On Prayer, part I

For several years now, I have thirsted for the chance to create a small still place for myself to engage in contemplative prayer and meditation. Life as a mother, daughter, teacher, and all the other hats that I (and so many others) wear means that when I DO finally sit down and try to still myself I usually wake up a few hours later with a start.

But in my ESM class we are studying spirituality and prayer this summer, so at last I can at least claim that I need some quiet time for school. This is hopefully going to be less stressful than last summer's assignment, which was preaching. Even though I speak and teach for a living, preaching is an entirely different experience, fraught with insecurity. What do I know, after all? What do I have to say? What if something heretical flies out of my mouth? What if the fans overhead blow the text of my sermon all hell to breakfast? These were just a few of my fears that I had to overcome.

In a way, it's the same thing with prayer. I am trying to move beyond the Oh God! definition of prayer, when God tells John Denver that he won't say anything to him from now on, but he'll be listening. I admit that I am more comfortable with music going on; silence can be disconcerting and twitchy. I don't want to just rambling on and on with God, and I don't want to make prayer a laundry list of wishes and wants with God as the big Sugar Daddy.

So I am reading Thomas Merton, and Julian of Norwich, and Kenneth Leech, and the Dalai Lama. I want to try to sink into the silence and listen to the Love that is God. And of course, I'll be trying to not fall asleep. And then trying not to beat myself up about it if I do fall asleep.

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