My Art of Prayer

MOON

MOON (Photo credit: Nick. K.)

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.

Blessings, Lydia

Home

House in Sasino.Image via Wikipedia
Such a simple word with such big implications.  When we say, “I am going home,” we should mean, I am going to my sanctuary, my place away from the world and all its’ craziness and demands, to the place where I can “let my hair hang down,” so to speak.  Home should be a refuge from the world outside, where you feel safe.  
For the past two weeks, I was in L.A. with my daughter and her family.  On May 10th, three days after my arrival, I was blessed to witness the birth of my newest g’child, a boy.  He is healthy and beautiful–so is his mother.  Anyway, I was there to help my daughter through her early days as a Mother.  Let me say that I relished that opportunity.  Yet, I learned one thing. When you are in someone else’s home and they tell you “make your self at home,” it is virtually impossible to do so–at least for me.  I want to make it clear that my hosts were gracious and opened up their home to me.  They wanted me to be as comfortable as possible.  My daughter and I are as close as any mother and daughter could be, but in the back of my mind, I always remembered that I was in her house, surrounded by her things. 
One night, letting warm water seep into my painful, aching muscles and bubbles take me way, I forgot where I was and languished in the bath as I would do at home.  I was soon reminded that I was not home. After attempting to wait me out, my poor son-in-law had to knock on the door to inquire when I’d be out.  I was chagrined at having made him wait.  On two separate occasions, I managed to destroy two of their plates–one a wall hanging and the other, a salad plate, part of their everyday dinner ware. The wall hanging was broken when I somehow managed to bump into it.  Since I can be rather clumsy, it is no surprise, but still, it was not mine to break.  Now the destruction of the salad plate was more complicated. However, cutting to the chase: Not knowing how to use the timer function of their microwave, and forgetting that I’d left a salad plate there, I set the microwave to cook for 15 minutes.  Well, let me tell you, a microwave can cook, no char, a plate in under 15 minutes.  I was busy holding my g’son as B. walked into the kitchen. It was beginning to fill with the scent of burnt plate.  She shouted, “Mom, what are you doing?” I said, “Using the timer.” She responded, “You left the plate in the microwave.” She opened the microwave and took out a charred cracked plate, barely recognizable as the blue plate that went in.  I took one look at it and at first, said–nothing.  What could I say?  Then I said “I am sorry” more than once and that I would replace the plate.  Then, the guilt set in.  Being raised Catholic, guilt is my middle name.
These are but a few of many incidents that occurred during my two weeks in L.A.  At home, I can take a bath as long as I wish, and I can break every plate in the house if I chose to without feeling any guilt, because they are mine. (Of course, I will have to answer some pointed questions from my husband about the whereabouts of our plates, but that is beside the point.) Being home provides a comfort and latitude that being in another’s home can’t provide. It is difficult to “let your hair head down” while you are ever mindful that you are not at home and that you can’t just let it all hang out if you wish. 
Nevertheless, this post in no way suggests that I wish to remain in the comfort of my own little home.  No way!  I am ready to explore–fibromyalgia be damned.  By my experience, I simply recognized how my daughter, who visits us about twice a year, might feel when she’s here. It makes me more aware and intent on making their stay as comfortable as possible. I plan to visit as often as possible to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law, and new g’son. My long ago experience with L.A. was not a good one, but the little that I saw during my recent visit made me want to see more.  Since it does not look like they are coming home anytime soon, I’ll have ample opportunity to explore.

There was one final realization. It is that my daughter is happy and for the time being has found her place in the world.  She is now a mother, and a great one at that. My g’son is more blessed than he can ever know to have B. and K. as his parents.   They have made a home in L.A. and although I would love for them to come home, that is not my choice to make.  For now, their “sanctuary” and “refuge” is in L.A. with their son. I have to respect that.

Oh yeah, as I venture away from home, I realize the old adage to be true, “absence does make the heart grow fonder.”

Blessings and love, Lydia

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