Monday, January 28, 2013


It can be quite easy to become weighed down by the reality of humanity.

That’s a depressing statement that I find myself agreeing with too quickly.  Which is exactly why I need to practice an awareness of the divine and mysterious that is everywhere around me.

I wonder why it is that we humans so easily and quickly have our attention drawn to the evil that is in men’s hearts. Is it so we can elevate ourselves above others and say, “Well, at least I don’t…” or “I would never do…”?

Through the last many years of reading, more from authors who have different faith traditions that I, those with more liturgical backgrounds, mystics, saints, I have been curious regarding the use of the word “practice” regarding faith.  I was more taught “do it” or “be disciplined”, which implies just setting your mind to it and you will be successful.

In every other area of our lives we understand practice.  In soccer you don’t just determine to kick a goal.  You practice kicking thousands of goals in all different circumstances and with all kinds of obstacles put in your way.  In music you practice, not just a piece of music, but scales, repeated fingerings on a keyboard.  In each of these you will get it wrong many more times that you get it right. But for some reason, with spirituality, with desiring to be all that is capable, we consider it failure.  This is one reason I walked away from my church in my early teen years.  I just keep failing.

Now, as my view of the divine and spirituality have changed, softened, grown(?), I am beginning to see my “failings” as I just need to practice more.  I don’t give up as easily.  If I make an intention to do something, every day, every week and then don’t do it; it is much easier for me to just sort to shrug my shoulders and say, “Well, I’ll try again”.

There may be days I feel so successful in showing love and care for someone and the next day I am faced with another who I absolutely cannot love.  Failure or the chance to practice more?

In the book In Search of Belief, Joan Chittister says:

                “[People] are not born perfect; they become perfect by failing.

                The conception, the impulsion, the kindling of Jesus by the Spirit of the Holy calls us to become less concentrated on sin and more on grace, less concerned with the restrictions of law, and more with the limitless possibility of love, less obsessed by the limitations of being human and more in awe of its potential.  It is humanity that is the womb of the divine for us.”

The more I practice being aware of God in everyone and in everything around me, the more my attention will be drawn to the good, the mysterious, the divine in humanity.

And this would be good for us all. 



Friday, January 4, 2013

Prayer: Still trying to figure this thing out

This may be a bit of a rambling, but I need to put it into words.

If prayer is to change us, then why make prayer about talking to God? Why is it not just talking to, thinking to myself?  Perhaps the revealing of myself carves out space for God.

From Joan Chittister’s Called to Question: “ ’I don’t pray,’ people say to me.  And I say back, ‘Neither do I.  I just breathe God in and hope somehow to learn how to breathe God out, as well’.  The purpose of prayer is simply to transform us to the mind of God.  We do not go to prayer to coax God the Cornucopia to make our lives a Disneyland of possibilities.  We don’t go to prayer to get points off our sins.  We don’t go to suffer for our sins.  We go to prayer to be transfigured ourselves, to come to see the world as God sees the world, to practice the presence of God, to put on a heart of justice, of love, of compassion for others.  We go to become new of soul.”

So, if this is true, can/should we pray for needs?  Others needs?  Are we truly just praying for divine presence in whatever circumstance?  Is that the “best” we can hope for?  Is it possible presence really is the best?  Do I misunderstand God so much that I don’t get this?

Let’s face it, we have to question how often, if ever, God really has intervened at our request.  Oh, this could go so much deeper. If awareness, that which is attained through prayer, is what is needed, then is awareness what could possibly bring us to the mental, emotional state of healing, grace, peace? 

We read or have heard that in studies those who pray heal faster.  Is it an actual “hand of God” intervening or is it a healing of our anxiety, confusion, fear that brings our bodies to a place they can heal? 

After reading this chapter on prayer, I know I have been misled about prayer my whole life.  I don’t think God is magic or my servant, but I don’t think I have known the true essence, the true purpose of prayer.  Because of this I have experienced disappointment.  I have been filled with questions.

Does all this mean I won’t pray?  Of course not.

From Called to Question:

“Maybe we are forgetting to center ourselves in the consciousness of the God who is conscious of all of us. Maybe that’s why the world today is in the throes of such brutal violence, such inhuman poverty, such unconscionable discrimination, such self-righteous fundamentalism.  Maybe we are forgetting to pray, not for what we want, but for the sight, the enlightenment, that God wants to give us.

And if I pray, will I be able to change those things?  I don’t really know.  All I know is that the enlightenment that comes with real prayer requires that I attend to them not ignore them.”