Where do you go to pray? For me prayer is as natural as breathing. Don't get me wrong. I'm no spiritual guru who holds the key to life and endless advice on deepening your spiritual life. Basically, I'm a mess. I have places deep within that are broken and wounds that never seem to quite heal. In short, I'm human. Full of imperfections and contradictions. How about you?
Problems occur when I forget my humanness. When I live with the illusion that I have my act together. When I think I'm captain of my own ship. That's when I forget to pray. When I forget to breathe. Do you know what I mean?
Author Barbara Mahany, in her beautiful and wise book: The Book of Nature, writes that there are certain places that she goes to, when she too realizes that she is a mess. For Mahany that place is the shoreline of a near-by lake. She calls it 'the place where prayers come'. It is when sitting on a log or amidst the tall grass, that she is able to quiet herself. The rhythm of the waves along the shore, the movement of the wind through the grass and trees, remind her to breathe. And, in breathing she remembers to be quiet and in being quiet, she remembers to listen and in time, she remembers to give voice that which she carries.
Mahany writes: 'In the place where prayers come, the quiet is where they begin. We come to the water's edge when what we hold cannot be contained.'
I know what she means. There are times, so many times, when I too become aware that the weight of what I carry, is just too much. Those feelings, thoughts, old soundtracks that seem to be on an endless loop in my brain. It is then, when what I carry can no longer be contained, that I seek out a sacred place that reminds me to be quiet, listen, breathe.
I too seek out the water to settle, calm and guide me. As I walk alongside the ocean or paddle my kayak in a river or lake, I remember that we all belong to a Sacred Source that is more expansive than we can possibly imagine.
As I paddle and drift I find that in time, the prayers come.
I offer up my emotions, my questions, doubts, struggles, regrets, need, gratitude and thanks.
How about you? Are there places in your life where prayers come?
For many spiritual traditions, water is a place for healing, inspiration, renewal. In Judaism, during the High Holy Days known as Days of Awe, the community come to the waters edge ( lake, river, ocean ) to cast their sins, individual and communal upon the waves. The people come with chunks of bread which they throw into the water as a symbol of that which they seek to be released from, to give up, that which the people can no longer contain.
The mess and brokenness that we as humans carry, is a part of our story. Yet, whatever we carry, need not define or constrain us. Oftentimes what is needed, is the solace of a quiet place and a willingness to offer up and let go of that which weighs us down.
Let us cast our bread upon the water.
With you on the journey ~ Kent Harrop