I feel strangely drawn to old traditions, even those I think I've rejected. I'm happy. I AM HAPPY. And that's all inclusive. Yes, there are always sadnesses and sufferings; that's the stuff of life, but, for me, happiness isn't a life without sadness or suffering. That's dead, actually. Happiness is learning to live in such a way that the realities of living don't slay us. We get up and begin again. We smile and we hope. I love being alive. I can't think of anything I want; there's nothing I need. My problems are those of my friends--persons dear to me who suffer from illness or tensions in relationships or loss of loved ones. In some cases, I can literally feel their pain; in others, I can't. But this isn't the point. When I face those situations and occasions over which I have no control, I've found myself turning to (and I can hardly write the word) prayer.
Now here's a disclaimer. I know the word conjures up all kinds of religious images. I can hear folks say I'm getting old (true that) and scared of dying (not quite yet). I feel sheepish about it and still unsure about what it all means. I tried to pray when my mother was dying. Maybe I did pray, but I didn't ask whomever or whatever I prayed to extend her life much as I would love to have her here right now. I have two friends who are quite ill. One believes in something (Something?); the other claims no religious beliefs. Though I've been away from organized religon for many years, I wonder what folks do when they face that thing, that HUGE and unfathomable thing that no human can help or soothe or solve. I wonder.
A dear friend gave me a book on prayer. "writing to GOD" is subtitled "40 Days of Praying with my Pen." She knows me well. Knows that I'm thinking about praying--what it is and what it means and why I'm thinking about it--and she knows I love to write what I want; when I want. I've only opened the book once, but I'm acutely conscious of its presence on my shelf. I confess that I ordered another book on prayer. It's a prayer journal. It's stuffed safely in my trip bag. I'd decided that I'd begin writing at the beginning of the new year. I've changed my mind. I go to sleep and awaken thinking about praying and hearing the prayers of the good "sisters" in my church tradition. I've also thought often about St. Paul, who, as many know, really gets on my nerves. Some of the words attributed to Paul poke and prod. At the moment, and for several days, I'm stuck on "pray without ceasing." What the hell does that mean?
I'm determined to figure out what's nagging me, disturbing my peace and peace of mind. Adding to rather than subtracting from my joy. I've repaired some relationships, asked forgiveness in others, set things right even if the settin' was rejected. I've done what I need to do. EXCEPT there's this idea of praying without ceasing to a god/God/Gods/gods/divinity I don't know if I know or where to find it because I can assure you it ain't likely in no church no where that I know.
What I do know is that praying doesn't have to be on knees, uttering stock words and phrases to something. It ain't begging for a miracle in my life or anyone else's. If I do have a prayer it is to let me be content in whatever state I find myself (yeah, I think that's Paul again). It ain't "Jesus don't let me suffer," but rather "whoever or whatever you are, please let me learn how to suffer with grace and dignity and gratitude for the wonder and joy I have known. " No, I don't believe that "what don't kill you will make you stronger." I didn't need all of the pain that I've suffered. I don't believe that I've learned anything from some of that pain. It was just pure unadulterated evil perpetrated, and we've all seen more than enough of that. What I do know is that we learn to survive by surviving; we understand our strength often during our moments of great weakness.
Happiness is not a destination. We don't just arrive at happy and take up residence. Happy doesn't mean that all is perfect in my world. Happy doesn't mean that my life can't change quicker than I can type the next letter. Maybe prayer is an ultimate expression of gratitude for whatever your happy is. For each day I am drenched in gratitude--unspeakable gratitude for being loved by entities known and unknown.
Bless be the tie that binds.........