Day 38 Being Prayed.
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
So begins a poem called “Prayer” by Carol Ann Duffy. She goes on in the poem to describe how daily activities, sounds, and experiences are like prayers uttering themselves on our behalf; like a song coming from a tree, or the nostalgic sound of grade 1 piano, the rhythmic chant of a passing train, even something on the radio. Prayers that come as a gift.
The prayer of Christ utters itself in life, and even if we struggle to join in, it often entices us quite unexpectedly, helping us realise that God is present with us in life. We may at times forget God’s presence in our daily round, but God does not forget us and often leaves little reminders around the place. The spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran calls these reminders “love letters” from God; and these love letters are found in so many different places.
We are often prayed, rather than the one doing the praying. I feel that in the Lady Chapel in church where I sit for a while each day. It often feels like the chapel is doing the praying, it’s what it is there for, and I am carried along in its prayerful flow and vibration.
The Eucharist does that also, it prays for us. We are not praying the Eucharist it is praying us; carrying us in its rhythm, its liturgy, its music, its ritual. That is why we should be faithful to our worship even if we do not feel like it, or feel worthy of it, or simply fancy an extra hour in bed; it prays us in an unseen way and leaves a little love note from God.
But, as Carol Ann Duffy points out in her poem, it is not just in church or during formal worship that we are prayed, that a prayer utters itself, but in ordinary, mundane, everyday living.
This is why I love my mantra. I don’t have to stop to pray it, or be prayed by it; it is a prayer for the road, for the journey through the day. It often utters itself, even when I am not consciously thinking about it. It prays me. It reminds me God is there, it helps me be aware of those divine little love notes left for me in the course of the day.
The Lady Chapel
Come Sit Breathe Pray.
I will pray for you.
I have prayed for many
Embraced their hopes Embraced their fears
Embraced their pain Embraced their tears.
Come Sit Breathe Pray
Let me enfold you in Holy Love
Let me enfold you in Holy Peace.
Surrender to the moment
To the Holy Presence
In this space
And I will pray your prayer
With a silence too deep for words
Love so tender
Meditation is much more about what happens to us, than something we do. Yes it is something we do: we sit, we pray our mantra, we move our prayer beads, we breathe in, we breathe out; but more importantly it is something that happens to us. We are being prayed. It is so important to keep this in mind. When we meditate we stop, keep as still and as quiet as we possibly can; not so we can pray, but so we can be prayed. We open ourselves to God’s presence, to God’s grace, to God’s love, so God can pray us; so God can once again form us gently with divine hands and breathe new life within us – as God did at our conception and birth. Each time we meditate we begin again, we are born again; we surrender to God’s holy life flowing through our veins, our cells, our bodies, our minds, our spirits, our very souls.
Life can so very often become about what we do, or what we think we do. We put such burdens upon ourselves, make demands upon ourselves, and then judge ourselves when we cannot carry those burdens, or meet those demands. It is a pattern that many will recognise. And, sadly, it is easy to make meditation and prayer into that same ordeal, but it is not about that at all. It is quite the opposite in fact, it is about what God does within us and through us. We are being prayed, it is that simple, it is that beautiful. All we have to do is surrender to the breath and life of God that is flowing through us; and trust that our, so called, incompetence at prayer does not stop that happening. God takes great delight in praying us day by day, and invites us to take delight in it as well.