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When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing – nothing. (Saint Francis of Assisi)

Tonight I facilitated another Reiki Share, and walked out of there feeling like a brand-new-gal. These gatherings have been one of my greatest joys as a Reiki practitioner (for about a bazillion reasons). Tonight, we got to talking about prayer and prayerfulness. It’s something that’s been on my mind lately, and I was so glad to get the input and thoughts of others as I muse over, ponder over, and chew on the whole concept of prayer, and the attitude of prayerfulness.

God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer. (Mother Teresa)

I have had a complicated relationship with prayer, I think. Maybe most people have – I don’t know. All I know is that I was raised as a Catholic, and that was my religious foundation for a great deal of my life. I don’t even want to get into that whole phenomenon of Catholic anger, or the idea of the “recovering Catholic.” That’s not what I’m driving at here, and I don’t really identify with either of those things. My Catholic upbringing – and my specific exposure to that perspective – gave me one conception of prayer, one way to live prayer, one way to act in prayer. And for a long time, that was the only way I could think about praying.

I believe I am finally in a place where I can actually appreciate the meaning of the word prayerful for the first time in my life. Of sensing the necessary openness, instead of expectation. And I came to it through Reiki.

One part of Reiki is actually providing yourself and others with treatment – that’s the part that most people are familiar with. They’ve seen it on the news, they’ve seen it on Dr. Oz, they’ve read about it online. And, all of that exposure? It’s great. I love it. But it neglects so much.

It’s the other part of Reiki that seems to be unseen, unacknowledged, and undiscussed. The inward part – the part where the practitioner (the one who practices) commits to walking a spiritual path. The part of Reiki that is the act of living prayerfully.

In college, I read Dorothy Day’s biography, and the quote that most struck me was when she said, “I could not go to God on my knees.” For such a long time, I really thought that was pretty much the only option I had – to be penitent, knees bent, head bowed, staring downward.

Prayer is not merely an occasional impulse to which we respond when we are in trouble: prayer is a life attitude. (Walter A. Mueller)

In the intervening years between reading and identifying with that quote and today, my conception of prayer, and my understanding of what it means to be prayerful, has grown and blossomed. Yes, there are times I go to God on my knees, but I let it be in reverence, and not in shame. There are also times I go with arms held high, feeling joyful and embraced. Feeling jubilant.

Eddie Izzard, a rather unconventional comedian, does quite a few skits on religion. (I love his comedy – it’s intelligent and quick and wry.) In one particular skit, he says that one of the things that’s always bewildered him is the way that so many Christians manage to sing praise songs in a dirge tone. That was my experience growing up – attending church each Sunday and watching the congregants sing Alleluia as though they were going to the gallows. And I prayed dirgefully. Uck.

Reiki has brought me a new way to experience prayer – something which I did not expect. I’ve talked about this quite a bit in Reiki Shares and in other gatherings, but not here on my blog. For me, providing treatment for someone becomes a prayerful experience. I tell clients that it feels almost as though the entire session becomes one long prayer. There is peace, and silence, and the space for them to heal and to find resolution. For me, there is inner quiet, and a meditative state that is something quite different than the state I’m in when I grocery shop or watch tv. There is an attentiveness and openness on the part of both myself and the client. We each enter the session with hopes (a form of prayer) and intentions (a kind of petition) and openness (the willingness to hear and receive the results of those hopes and intentions).

Prayer gives a man the opportunity of getting to know a gentleman he hardly ever meets. I do not mean his maker, but himself. (William Inge)

I try to bring more of that into my day (with varying degrees of success). I try to bring myself into a state of mindfulness more often in my everyday life. I try to think prayerfully, walk prayerfully. Be prayerful.

Being prayerful, for me, has come to mean:

  • Being soft like water – able to bend with the flexible and changing world around me.
  • Being passionate like fire – able to feel all the things that it means to be human with depth and meaning.
  • Being open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, new ways of behaving.
  • Being mindful of all the world around me, and the deservingness of everyone and everything to be treated with the reverence that is due one of God’s creations.
  • Being mindful of my speech, knowing that the wrong words have such ability to harm.
  • Being mindful of my attitudes, knowing that I (like everyone else) tend to get “stuck” in them.
  • Being mindful of my part in all things – that even when I feel as though I’ve been wronged, there is something in that experience that is mine, and that I need to own.
  • Open arms. Open hands. Open heart.
  • More listening, less talking.

My intention this month was to work at being more prayerful in my daily life. I want to embrace all the ways that prayer has been a blessing to me in both joy and sorrow. I want to walk, knowing that with each step I take, I have an opportunity to walk prayerfully. With each breath, I have an opportunity to breathe prayerfully. Each word, each thought, each action – is an opportunity to be prayerful.

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. (Abraham Lincoln)

It is of course possible to dance a prayer. (Terri Guillemets)

I wrote about this tonight because it’s occupying my thoughts, and I wanted to write about it to see where I was with it. I fully expect my feelings, thoughts, and ideas about prayer to change and grow – I welcome it. When I “write to discovery,” as I intended to do tonight, I tend not to be as eloquent as when I feel sure of what I’m saying – thanks for bearing with that.

I’d love to hear about what prayerfulness means for others. How do you experience prayer? How do you live prayer in your life? What things have you had to heal about prayer in order to get where you are today?

Part of walking the path of mastery is picking up all the pieces of your life one by one, like stones on the riverbank, and holding them in your hands. Turning them over and over, examining them. Seeing them again and for the first time. My growing relationship to prayer is another of those stones – one which I know I’ll cup thoughtfully in my palm many times as I walk forward.

 

 

Maybe I’m not as lapsed a Catholic as I thought, or maybe there is just something ingrained in me from all the religious education classes I went to for all those years. Maybe it’s just something inherent about this time of year…this is Holy Week – the week preceding Easter, and all those miraculous happenin’s.

Probably not uncoincidentally, this morning I woke up pondering miracles. Reading through the blogs I follow, two of them were talking miracles in one way or another. It spurred further thought…

The dictionary defines Miracle as: an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause; such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God; a wonder; marvel.

What interested me, though, was the history of the word – the etymology, where it came from. Miracle originally described something that was an “object of wonder.” That’s important – nowadays, most people figure a miracle happens when tidal waves crush a home, but miraculously the toddler and the dog are found safely suspended in a tree out of harm’s way. There is no denying that is miraculous – but focusing on the big and showy has blinded a lot of us to the other miracles.

I’m talking about the “objects of wonder” – what I think of as the quiet miracles. The subtle ones. The ones you see and notice when you’re paying attention, when you’re focused, when you’re feeling that inner quiet just long enough to see through the eyes of wonder.

When I see something happening amidst a crowd – when I’m the only one who sees it. When I set my busy down long enough to let God get my attention. When I set my worry aside long enough to hear a new thought, to look in a new direction.

I know that I do not take enough time to simply revel, to marvel, at the world around me. When I think about all of it – really think about it, and let it touch me – I am speechless in amazement. At how everything fits together, at how each piece is perfectly within the whole, at the swirling veins on a leaf, at the intelligent look in my cat’s eyes, at the sheer weight of creation.

This week, I am going to seek that inner quiet and spend time contemplating those quiet miracles. I am going to spend time being in love with the world, and let myself get carried away with amazement. I am going to look out through child’s eyes, and see it all new and fresh.

It may be Holy Week for the Catholic Church, but it could be holy week every week for all of us if we let it. If we allow quiet. If we allow ourselves to reimagine our selves and our world anew. To see one another with quiet wonder, to honor the small miracles that we are to one another.

 

I should have spent today in bed.

Today was a day to spend ensconced in creamy white sheets – the cotton ones my mother bought for me, the ones that feel deliciously smooth on my bare legs.

Today was a day to spend propped up on pillows clad in my favorite pillowcases – the ones my great-grandmother embroidered with the blue thread that remind me of crisp, clear fall skies.

 

To lie there,

lissome, languid,

And contemplate.

To stare at the ceiling without even seeing it.

 

To think.

To push aside plans, and release clocks and schedules.

To open my heart to dreaming,

To drop slowly, stone after stone, ideas, forms, thoughts,

subtle meanderings

Into the stillness inside me.

 

To get nothing done.

To be away.

To let everything take care of itself for one day,

To let the phone go unanswered,

The mailbox go unchecked,

The to-do lists go undone;

to just be.

 

To respect the cozy haze

To allow myself to ensorcelled by my own energy

To be mellow.

 

Today, even books (my weakness) would have felt intrusive.

I wanted to sit,

Allowing silence to press in

To circle round,

To embrace me –

To transport me.

 

To be contemplative.

To feel prayerful –

With each breath,

Each movement of my fingers along the embroidery –

To read the Braille of those stitches and divine meaning.

 

To revel in a state of happy-aloneness,

Knowing the comfort of never being alone.

To commune with myself,

With God.

 

To honor my own body and mind

To allow respite,

To enjoy rest, and the act of resting.

 

To enjoy my quiet heart,

To not speak, and not need to speak.

To listen, instead.

 

To be prayerful –

To praise on each breath

And honor with each movement.

 

To be prayerful –

To think about the things for which I have no words –

The things that need to be felt to be experienced.

 

To be prayerful –

To have a peaceful heart

A quiet mind

A resting body

A listening spirit.

Come have a look through my kaleidoscope eyes. Come walk with me, as I make my way down the Path of Mastery (complete with fits and starts and pitstops and potholes). Our very impermanence is what makes us burn so brightly, and struggle so valiantly, and feel so deeply – it’s what makes us seize the day, and the moment. Come in, settle in, share a moment with me.

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"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)