Monday, October 20, 2008

Prayer and other random thoughts

I spent yesterday afternoon doing a lot of reading on prayer for Wellspring. There were some things that really struck a chord with me.

As I'm discovering, prayer becomes deeper and more meaningful with practice and intention.

Wikstrom mentions, in the essay in our book, that prayer can seem like an appropriation. As a former Catholic, I really identify with this statement, and continue to try to redefine what prayer means for me, and whether it is something I'm even comfortable with. I suspect it's like using the words "God" or "Amen" or "soul"; that I need to get beyond my reactions to my past religions experiences with these words, and claim them as my own, in a new paradigm.

As Wikstrom describes also, my own experience with prayer has been mostly about intercession and confession, or forgiveness. I want to move to a definition that speaks to prayer as a connection to unity and the divine, and of gratitude.

I don't need to be praying to anyone or anything, to connect to what is within and without me, just in the physical world. As I do more of this, I am finding a connection to more of the mystery of the universe as well - even just speaking of the wonder of all existence, and how biology works, and the interconnectedness of all things.

Although I am not drawn to Wikstrom's method of prayer, the symbolism of his beads does strike a chord. My daily spiritual practice of meditative walking and centering is a way to begin my day with focus and intention, and to return to that inner place throughout the day, when I have the opportunity. The way that I name the sacred is through recongition of mystery. Our very presence in the universe is a divine mystery, regardless of whether it's biological or theological. And we are all bound by a common thread of seeking - seeking balance, seeking peace and serenity, seeking answers.

Listening during prayer is about intentionally being open - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually - to what the universe brings into my life.

Loving is the key to what I am beginning to see as prayer. I have struggled with seeing prayer as a tool of selfishness and self-centeredness - of ego. In another reading, Josh Snyder says that Catholic prayer can feel like wish fulfillment - this is exactly what I dislike about my past experience with prayer.

In Rev. Crow's sermon that we read, I resonated with her comment (perhaps a quote?) that prayer doesn't change things, it changes people, and people change things. Prayer is a way to access my own inner voice, to hear myself and to feel heard, so that I can change myself, and be a force of change in the world.

He says, "Very often, we start with our beliefs about God, and then define everything around that." So having a new definition of my experience with the sacred and crystallizing that does not mean that I have to define prayer in any particular way. It can be formative, but not the way.

Finally, Rev. Davis says that "Prayer is about opening the windows of your being so that more...light can shine in on you."
I encourage anyone to go and listen to Rev. Scott Tayler's sermon on the financial crisis, once it is posted. I found myself moved and wanting to say "Amen!" and at the same time, called to remember that there is no heirarchy of pain, something I learned in my days working with battered women.

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