Living Prayer

It’s a stormy day here in San Francisco, with lots of rain. I head home from the pool on the local bus. The large windows are steamed up and everyone looks soggy, with wet raincoats and dripping umbrellas. I step on the bus, with only one thing on my mind: how fast can I get home. I take a seat and close my eyes lightly. The sounds of older Chinese women shouting, college kids talking on cell phones, and raindrops falling on the metal bus roof wrap around me. I sink into my breath, having taught myself to meditate anywhere.

But after five minutes, still 30 blocks from my house, the bus breaks down. At first, we all sit still in disbelief, thinking that maybe if we don’t move, this won’t be the truth! “You will all have to take the next bus,” the driver announces in a loud voice. “Can we wait on the bus?” I ask. She agrees and a handful of us stay seated. I stop holding my breath, and realize that I am going nowhere fast. I smile at myself, and this moment becomes comical.

Then, it strikes me that this moment is a living prayer. This moment. Wet, restless, being forced to be patient, chatting with strangers, and waiting for the next bus. What would it be like to relate to it as prayer? And as I shift into seeing it this way, as living prayer, the tone of the moment changes. I become more willing to be in the small adventure of this experience of waiting in a steamy bus, with the windows fogged up, with strangers, and the bus driver showing me the scar near her eye as she tells me how she got it.

This shift of seeing my experience as a living prayer changed the way I related to this broken down moment. More and More, I am inviting myself to see what I am doing as living prayer: as a way of living my connection to the Divine, to the deep source of my life. This shift allows me to find more connection deep inside myself, where the water rushes in. It’s challenging my notion of prayer and I like it. I’m curious–how expansive and dynamic can prayer really become in my life? We’ll see!