In Andrew Harvey’s book. ‘The Direct Path’ one of his suggested practices for connecting with the divine is Conversations With God. I really want to talk about this but I don’t know where to start. It’s a big subject. When I was younger I remember hearing a priest say that you just had to talk to talk to God and tell Him how you were feeling or what you were thinking. I don’t remember ever really doing that. I can remember prayers by rote but I don’t remember ever feeling like I had a relationship with God.
When I was in my teens I discovered Paganism and found that I could also think of God the Mother. Later I explored ideas of pantheism and immanence. God/dess is in everything. God/dess is Everything. How do you pray to everything? I thought of The Goddess as Life and this journey we take. Perhaps I thought of ‘Her’ like the fates or the spinners of the wheels of destiny, spinning the threads of life unfolding. My relationship with the Divine is beyond words. Words are creative tools to help me. God doesn’t care about the words, the language or the gender of my address. God is the immencity of existence. There is truth in polytheism and atheism. God has a billion faces and none. In her wonderful blog ‘A Druid Life’ Nimue Brown wrote recently about building relationship with all things in a world where Everything is sacred. It is a challenging life to lead. This breath is sacred. When I slow down I remember. When I am alone outdoors, I remember. My bare feet are kissed by the earth..
So where does prayer then come into it? How to pray and why to pray? I just had to look up the word prayer in the dictionary to see what it is defined as. I use it in so many ways that are very personal that I wonder if I understand it. According to dictionary on my laptop prayer is a solemn request for help or expression of thanks to God or another deity. I can work with that. I start each morning with prayer. I choose an aspect of God that I have relationship with. It might be God the Creator or God as a face of Celtic Deity or Life or the Breath of Spirit or the Morning Sun. I ask the Divine for help that I may be my best this day. I give thanks for the day ahead.
Prayer for me is many things. There are prayers I know off by heart and when I say them I am connecting with the ancestors of that prayer, the community of spirit and of sound and of heart. There are prayers that I say with others in ritual that connect us to each other in openness and love. There are silent wordless prayers as I watch the sun set or the rooks building their spring nests. There is prayer when I hold my partner and see the God in him. There is prayer when I ask God’s protection for him. There is prayer when I thank the gods for love. There is prayer as I close my eyes at night.
My favourite prayer from the Christian tradition is the Peace Prayer of St Francis. I have been known to change the addressee from time to time.
Deepak Chopra made a statement on Twitter that made me smile and I thought ‘exactly’. It was ‘I used to be an atheist, until I realised I was God’.
Somehow I have managed to write an entire post on prayer without refererring to my favourite way to pray: dancing. I am a lover of 5Rhythms dance. I will write about that another day. I would simply like to offer here a description of dance as prayer from the creator of 5Rhythms, Gabrielle Roth.
“To sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self. Sweat is holy water, prayer beads, pearls of liquid that release your past. Sweat is an ancient and universal form of self-healing, whether done in the gym, the sauna, or the sweat lodge. I do it on the dance floor. The more you dance, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you pray. The more you pray, the closer you come to ecstasy.” – Gabrielle Roth
How do you pray? Has your prayer changed over time? What face of the Divine smiled with you today?