This summer is becoming all about prayer, not the kind that you sit and struggle to connect with God, but rather waiting for my vision, hearing, and all the rest of my senses to recognize that God has been here all the time. I have been reading a lot of thought-provoking stuff this summer and I admit I haven’t read a single novel or none theological book, yet. But what I have read has been an extension of what I’ve been feeling for the last year. I’ve read two books by John O’Donohue, Anam Cara and Eternal Echoes, along with Martin Buber’s I and Thou and now that I’ve completed those three books I realize just how important prayer and my relationship with God and all creation is to my well-being . Yes I know I’ve been studying for 3 years and if I had read these 3 books before I began STM I would have enjoyed them, but, now they have real meaning for me. I see threads of my life that have been and are being woven together to form a whole all through a life that has been prayer.
This summer I’ve been trying to discern what prayer means to me, Ruth Jewell. Not Ruth Jewell the wife, ecological consultant, or even theological student, just Ruth. How do I relate to God in my prayers, what is prayer, and how do I accept prayer into my being.
O’Donohue says that “Prayer is not about the private project of making yourself holy and turning yourself into a shining temple that blinds everyone else. Prayer has a deeper priority, which is … the sanctification of the world of which you are privileged inhabitant.” Prayer isn’t about asking for that pony, a full stock portfolio, or even that “A” in the class you’ve worked so hard for and prayer isn’t about sweating and struggling to connect with God. Because, I’ve already ‘connected’ with God and am in relationship with her.
I am beginning to recognize that every moment of my life, every breath I take, every time my heart beats, I am in a relationship with God. My first prayer task is to accept that relationship into my being allowing it to work through everything I do. Then, what I have to do is to reflect the Divine relationship, which began before my birth, out to the world around me. My last major task is to recognize and honor the relationships reflected by each and every member of this universes creation. On paper those sound so easy, but I know from experience just how hard it is to follow through on them.
One of the issues I’ve had this summer has been I haven’t been able to sit and practice the spiritual disciplines I’ve always found fulfilling. Instead I want to work with John on our Garage cleaning (which is a way bigger job than I thought it would be) or sit with him on our deck and watch the ferry come in and out. All I want to do is be with my grandchildren and my friends children to watch them grow into new beings all their own. I am thrilled that I’ve been asked to be part of important tasks for STM and my ecclesial community both are chances for me to give back what they’ve given to me. I love offering prayers for those in need of comfort I just don’t want to do it sitting still, or in a setting that makes me stand out.
I was worried that I was entering a “dry period” in my spiritual life and maybe I am, but I think I am instead entering a rich time where prayer is more than sitting in a worship setting, prayer is working, loving and being in contact with all of creation. I have always had an easy conversational style of praying to God, but now I don’t have to have any special time set aside to do that. I find that, for me, prayer isn’t something I do, it’s something I am. I do not have to work on my relationship with God; I am in relationship with Her. She is present every moment of my life, waking or sleeping, whether I recognize her presence or not, She is there. With every breath I take I breather Her in, with every beat of my heart I spread her essence throughout this clay vessel called a body. With every word I speak She speaks. That is an awesome responsibility and one I am learning to respect. I know (and She knows) I will not always be successful but I now feel I am awakening to something so old it’s new, I just don’t know what to make of it all.