Is This Not Prayer?
This is a blog I wrote for the Wild Lectionary, an amazing source of beautiful, progressive and transformational thinking. We follow the liturgical calendar, which is all new to me, as a non-protestant/non-Catholic and it's a wonderful challenge; the marriage of my nature and human connections and my personal beliefs. Enjoy!
A while back, I listened to an On Being podcast with Krista Tippett and Seane Corn. I really admire both of of these beautiful and strong women. The guest, Seane, is a yogi and teacher for many, as well as the focus of a little envy from my side because of her awesome curly hair😊. The name of the podcast was Yoga,Meditation in Action. In the podcast, she tells a story of a way of praying that I had not considered before: a fully embodied prayer, going through sun salutations, holding grateful and positive intentions for a loved one. In that moment. In those moments, she granted me words for something I had experienced many times, in many places and in many ways.
In my years as the oldest daughter in a family of 9 children, a mother of 4 children, a teacher of innumerable music students, the leader in church children’s worship, a guide working in nature therapies, gardener, fruit tree-tender, goat-milker and chicken-tender, I had noticed something. The feelings had words, finally.
Maybe this was the obvious call to pastor-ship that I missed because of being a Mormon female, but surely a glimpse into what might be a gift I could bring to the world. What if everything we do in love and compassion is prayer? Can we make it all prayer? Can counseling my baby brother and his wife be prayer, can listening to my grandmother talk about my ailing grandfather be prayer, can helping to raise my siblings, raise my kiddos, and care for my non-human friends in the barn and in the gardens be prayer?
When I read the passage from 2 Timothy which says:
I am grateful to God-whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did-when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.
I think about this constant praying of Paul. How would that be possible if everything could not be prayer? Prayer to me during my youth was simple: fold your arms, bow your head, be silent, thoughtful, then speak aloud your gratitudes and needs to God in the name of Christ. That worked for a lot of years.
Then one day, I was in my garden, watching the bumblebees sleeping in the sunflowers, and a feeling of peace, joy, and contentment washed over me. Is this prayer?
As I watch my children grow, learning from their failings as well as their successes, my heart expands, my eyes weep, and I know more than anything that my heart is not just my own anymore, but theirs. Is this prayer?
As participants come on forest therapy walks from a local Cancer Services group with me, come into contact with hidden, difficult and beautiful parts of themselves, is this not prayer?
The list is endless: the bluebirds that nest on my sugar maple, the joy of reunion with loved ones, the noticing of the smell of freshly-cut hay, and on and on. Constant prayer is possible. When frustration and anger arise in me about my current life situation, or health issues, or anything at all, really, can I bring myself back into that space of good intention? Can I allow for space for growth, even if it does hurt? Prayer in that moment is showing love and compassion for my full humanity. Prayer in other moments could look like love and compassion for the humans and more-than-humans we share this time on earth with or the earth itself.
May it all be prayer.