I am hesitant to write about prayer because I have such a strong aversion to religiosity. The truth is that, since I was very young, I have been strongly attracted to silent, solitary prayer. As a child, I loved the silent and dark, empty Churches. When the nuns would talk about “vocations”, it was the cloistered Carmelites that attracted me.
Even though my life has not been outwardly “religious” – I am a rebellious “Catholic” – my inner life has always been preoccupied with prayer. My reading has centered around contemplative writers – Merton, Hammarskjöld, the Cloud of Unknowing, Chuang Tzu …
And now. These days when everything seems a bit dazed, different, distracted – I hear/feel clearly the call the prayer. In some ways, it seems as if this “illness” (can I even call it that? I’m not really sick, it’s more like an alarm or something) is a door leading and helping me toward a more simple and easy and nothing-but-prayer way of living.
I have pretty much let go of all of my computer clients until the end of the year, when I am through the surgery and hopefully recovered. Without the stress of “having to work”, my days open up to me to basically do whatever I want. And what I want to do is what I’ve always wanted to do – pray. So I begin to structure my day more like a monk, with prayer the first thing in the morning, and at least once sometime during the day, and then at bedtime. I use 2 books to help – Merton’s “Book of Hours” and a Benedictine Book of Hours – and I only read one short reading from each book per sitting. More than that and I seem to turn the time into “reading” rather than “praying”.
Then I sit. I am just quiet. I let myself go to the deep place in myself where I know God’s presence. I don’t know how long I do this – sometimes for longer times, sometimes for shorter times. I alternate these times of sitting with some simple yoga stretches.
And then I’m ok. And I know that everything will be ok. All I have to do is be quiet, and remember to pray.