Come wanderer, worshipper, lover
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come even if you have broken your vows
a thousand times.
Come, come yet again, come.
It’s the oddest thing, but I’ve started to pray.
God is no stranger, but for me words have never been part of the relationship. To talk to Her, to declare my intentions out loud, feels too foreward, almost ridiculous, as when singing an Emily Dickenson poem to the tune of “Yellow Rose of Texas.”
Go ahead, give it a try:
On this long storm the rainbow rose,
On this late morn the sun;
The clouds, like listless elephants,
Horizons straggled down.
The birds rose smiling in their nests,
The gales indeed were done;
Alas! how heedless were the eyes
On whom the summer shone!
In her memoir, Lit, that consummate essayist Mary Karr chronicled her career as a drunkard.
When she hit bottom, despite her cynicism, she began praying. Praying, she said, turned her life around.
Drunkard I am not, nor cynic. My worst addiction—it is a bad one—is sugar. That’s not true. My worst addiction is avoiding vulnerability, which takes many forms, sugar one of them.
You should try this prayer idea, I thought. It could help your little problem.
But I didn’t.
Then, a month ago in Oregon, I got scared.
If we moved to Oregon, I saw, I would have to reinvent myself. That is to say, the thousand things I do to avoid vulnerability would have to translate to another location.
A lot of work, that. A lot of furniture.
There comes a point when it’s all too much, all the attempts at control. They make you rigid, and rigid costs. And anyway, it doesn’t seem to solve the problem, not really. So after fifty years of wandering you just give up. You sit down and ask for help.
You—-there is no other word—surrender.
NIGHT AND SLEEP
When I was young, I said a prayer every night at bedtime. It went like this:
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
God Bless —
I filled in the names, everyone I could think of, beginning with Mommy, Daddy, and my sisters.
When my father died, I realized it had all been a farce. What kind of God took your father away? I couldn’t say the prayer anymore.
That’s when the lists started, the charms, spells of protection. Protection turned into habit, habit to addiction.
Action to prevent the disaster, Ashleigh Brilliant has said, will be taken as soon as possible after it has happened.
I hadn’t thought of Now I lay me down to sleep for years. But a few months ago, putting Nick to bed, I taught him the prayer. He has always needed a night light in his room, and this night in particular he didn’t want me to leave.
“Do you believe in God?” I said.
“Well, this is something you can say.”
He seemed to like the idea.
THE WAY I DO IT
Peace us such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.
— Matthew Henry
When talking to God you can’t lie. That’s the whole thing. That’s why it works. I’m probably preaching to the converted, but I have to say these things for me.
It’s best not to be distracted or self-conscious, which probably means being alone. Think of what you want. Look for the words to say it. Since you can’t lie, you have to look at what you want for what it is. If that makes you feel a certain way, the words might lead somewhere else.
I don’t really think God is a woman. But the whole, ridiculous, Yellow-Rose-of-Texas act of talking as if Someone is listening short circuits something false in you.
Silent prayer is not what I’m talking here. You need to make the words on your lips and tongue, with breath. The sound must go out, even if only a whisper. Who knows where it ends up? Could be the wrinkle of your pocket. Or the horizon of time.
Perhaps, no difference.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
Just Add Father, at any rate, is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)
If you like this post and have a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account, please consider sharing it by clicking one of the buttons below: