Week 8: Prayer Out the Window

by | Nov 3, 2018

I woke this morning with the sudden realisation that I can’t pray. For the past eight weeks during this sabbatical time I have been unable to pray.

Not in the traditional way of saying prayers. But I abandoned that notion of prayer many decades ago. For I no longer believed in a God that pulls puppet strings to bring rain for the farmers and sunshine for the holiday makers, that decides who is killed in a car crash and who will survivie, Or even a God that sent his son to die for our sins that we may live. None of that made sense to this feminist scientist of the 1980’s.

But I have not even been able to follow my spiritual routine for recent years. A time of quiet upon waking each morning, gratitude journaling, contemplating scripture , reflecting on the content of daily devotionals, followed by a short period of silent meditation interrupted by the gymnastics of my monkey mind. A routine practice that has grounded my ensuing day as I ventured out into the busy world among the bruised souls of the destitute , the homeless and the just simply lonely. No, over these past eight weeks there is no soul connection with any of these practices and so they have dropped away like the dry leaves floating down from the tree in the autumn breeze.

There has not even any sustenance coming from spiritual reading which has been so lifegiving and vital for my flourishing for say 40 years. Despite bookshelves lined with the wisdom of Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh, Matthew Fox, Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen and Joan Chittister, just to name a few, I have been unstimulated (if there is such a word.)

Instead I am nourished by being present to the moments that make up my days. Lingering in bed when the opportunity is there. Holding a warm cup of tea. The hot piercing shower that massages my scalp. The frost on the roofs. The warm pastries for breakfast. The blast of cold air as I step out the door. The colours of clothes, the texture of gloves. The squelch of the ground under my feet. Present to writing, painting, photography, walking. Travelling on planes, trains and buses.

Tramping hills, dawdling down alleyways. Wandering labyrinths, naves, and cemeteries, wooded landscapes alongside babbling brooks or meandering along country lanes. Window shopping. Hot creamy soup with crust bread. Freshly baked cake with afternoon tea. Warm sticky pudding with lashings of cream. Phone calls with home, emails from afar, the text that goes bing when the wifi is on. Gazing through windows, looking at faces, towering trees, honey bees, clouds, sunsets and twittering birds. Conversations about childhood memories, place of birth, tragic or joyful events, recollections of the past and dreams of the future. All with attention, compassion and delight. United as one with this moment in time, this place, these people, the universe at large.

All this is my prayer, all this gives glory. All this is my union with the beloved. And all the while knowing I am the beloved as each of us are.

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