As an initial matter, I want to point out that in this post, I refer to God. That is my preference, but I understand that for others it may be Source, Divine Mother, Universe or what have you. Please feel free to substitute the term that feels right for you.
“At the end of a crazy-moon night
the love of God arose.
I said, “It’s me, Lalla.” ~ Lal Ded (Lalla), a 14th century mystic from Kasmir
Earlier, I was reading this blog and her post led me to ponder the act of prayer. For me, praying is as natural as breathing. I grew up in the very Catholic New Orleans and I spent 12 years in Catholic schools where we attended church regularly. The act of prayer was bred into us. As a child and teen, I prayed about things which as an adult are quite laughable. I prayed that I’d receive certain things for Christmas, I prayed that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself in a PE softball game, I prayed that I could attend a sleep over, and as I grew older, I prayed that a certain boy would notice me, and that I could attend the party of the century, nothing was too trivial to bring before God. At that time, prayer involved getting down on my knees in sublimation, bowing my head with reverence and making an impassioned plea for my request.
As an adult, prayer became less of this rigid, formal affair and more of a way of forming a deep relationship with God and more importantly, a way of communicating with him. In addition to requests and gratitude, I began to, among other things, share my thoughts and feelings, and seek guidance or advice, usually in the form of journaling. For reasons that I cannot recall, at some point, I became concerned about whether I was doing enough and whether I was praying correctly. I was in a quandary because if I was ‘doing it wrong,’ perhaps God wasn’t hearing my prayers.
It was during this period of rumination that I first stumbled upon the above poem. It was so simple and brief that at first glance, I passed it up. Yet, it spoke to me in a very profound and real way, and I returned to it to figure out the reason. I understand that, as with any poem, others may espouse different interpretations to it, but this is my interpretation.
In it, I read that there is no strict formal way that we must pray to be heard. In my mind, the phrase “It’s me Lalla,” implies both a close relationship in which God knows exactly who we are, as well as an approachable God. For me, prayer is akin to talking to a close, special friend that we trust more than anyone in the world. With that said, think of your relationships and particularly those in which you feel a kinship with the person with whom you are talking and perhaps, sharing your heart. Especially in the case of significant or important discussions there is an implied level of familiarity and trust with the person. In the end, we speak to God in a way that allows us to be most open and honest. The poem allayed my fears and concerns.
In my case, prayer became a freer more open-ended exchange. Of course, my adult concerns make those of my youth pale in comparison, but I value my “talks” with God, as an integral part of who I am. Ours is a two-way conversation in which I can rant, rave, question, explain, express gratitude and be exactly who I am, with no doubt that I am understood and loved. I finally realize that as unique human beings, it is little wonder that our methods of prayer, communication and relationship with God differs, and that is as it should be.