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Letting Prayer be Alive

Wednesday Wisdom. 

I really enjoy doing spiritual direction, listening and dwelling with others on how the Spirit is moving in their lives. It’s a very sacred practice. The theme of prayer often comes us, and this past week it has caused me to reflect on my prayer life.

I am inviting myself to pause and reflect on my prayer life, to discover if there is an invitation for something new or different. The question that has arisen for me is: Can play be prayer?

It is summer, and yes, here in San Francisco it is dripping with fog, but the summertime of my heart is excited and receptive.

I invite you to join me, to pause and reflect on your prayer life, in a soft, gentle and open way.

For many of us, we have prayer practices that we have grown accustom to; they are comfortable; they are familiar; they feel like prayer. They are not to be abandoned, but perhaps you are longing for something else–for more quiet time, or to expand your sense of prayer and learn to “See God in All Things,” as Saint Ignatius teaches us.

The first place to start is to listen to yourself and to the Spirit. You are partners with God, and together you know what is best for you. Begin by touching your longing for a deeper connection with God.

  • Allow yourself to turn inward, to sit still, and turn your focus towards your heart. Gaze at your heart for a few minutes, using the in and out breath to deepen your experience.
  • In this quiet, allow yourself to meet your longing and desire for a deeper connection with God, with the Spirit, with Your Life Force.
  • With humbleness and openness, ask the Spirit to guide you and show you the way.
  • Be willing to sit with patience and presence.
  • Trust that God reveals to those who desire.

We must learn to trust that God will teach us, reveal to us, show us the way, if we open ourselves to the guidance of the Spirit. You may discover a new book on prayer, or perhaps, you may finally open up a book that has been sitting on your shelf for a long time. You may reconnect with a practice that has slipped away, or find a poem that speaks to you. Let yourself be surprised! Pay attention.

Just this morning, I was leafing through a binder, reviewing some material I had on prayer to write this blog post, when this poem by Mary Oliver appeared. It speaks to me about delight, and reminds me to notice the blades of grass. This delight and this noticing is a way of praying. I am being invited to quiet the anxieties and fears in my mind, and to have a heart of summer–open, filled with delight, and playful.

Mindful

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver ~ from New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2

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