Sr. Margaret Dorgan's Weekly
This reflection appeared first in The Church World, the diocesan weekly of Maine.
© copyright 2005 by Sr. Margaret Dorgan, DCM
Prayer is Any Time
Prayer isnít something you have to travel long distances to find or go through some rigorous process to achieve. Itís not an uphill struggle, with yourself panting and drenched with perspiration from the exertion. Prayer is much more simple, much more accessible. You just have to reach down within yourself.
Itís like a rhythm thatís going on all the time, deep in your interior, but you sink into the depths to find it. Or itís like a song thatís being sung continually, but who is listening? Just pausing to listen you can hear it and itís the song of Jesus, the Word of God singing in you.
Going deep within is going to where you want to be, because itís only in that profound level that your life finds vital meaning. The surface things, the action things---attending this meeting, and voting on that committee or even visiting someone to comfort and console---all these have meaning if they relate to the depths of your being because itís down there that meaning exists in the rhythm of reality--- the rhythm of breathing in God and breathing out God. If somehow we donít breathe in God and breathe out God in what we do, we shortchange ourselves and the people weíre involved with. Lots of experts have more know-how than we have in handling social problems, educational problems, economic problems. But breathing in God and breathing out God to others---this is my assignment in my particular human nature and it should be my field of focus.
Many approaches are being taken today in regard to prayer. These meditation practices are helpful. Itís impressive that we in the western world are turning our attention to the treasures to be found in Zen and Yoga. But something nudges me here. We Christians are like miners who have been handed free-of charge rights to a mine of diamonds. All we have to do is dig in. But weíre heard of gold in other hills and off we go to mine the gold of Zen and the gold of Yoga. Iím not saying we shouldnít go to those hills to get gold. But what about the diamonds in our own Christian mine? How many of us read the Christian saints who speak to us as our own brothers and sisters? They invite us to rejoice with them and to ponder what Jesus has given them and they pass on to us.
As a kind of symbol of what prayer is all about, Iíd like to take our rescued Catahoula hound, Deirdre. I donít think this is irreverent, since God did a great work in creating Deirdre. Now, Iíve never been able to detect any real prayer in her. In fact, whenever we gather together to pray, Deirdre walks out on us. She knows all the signals and says to herself: this is not for me. She goes to sleep. Still, I say Deirdre is a good symbol for prayer. And this is how.
Sheís very much geared to the present instant and throws herself into it with absolute relish, wringing out of it every atom of joy it can possibly contain. She inhabits her canine world with zest. She expects the best from it and is wholly alert to the positive qualities of experience. Deirdre lives with enthusiasm, a great tribute to her Maker. Someone said of Deirdre: ďI never saw a dog with such a high opinion of herself.Ē Thatís a good basic ingredient for prayer: be happy with yourself. Forget all the guilt for these moments as you rejoice that God is God and you are you.
Deirdre is very spontaneous, although she does have a sense that maybe you have some special rules sheíd better obey. Spontaneity with God is something weíre too rarely urged to have. No one has ever prayed like you before. If you can sink deeper into prayer by a walk in the woods or by floating on your back in the water or by being perched on a tractor as you mow hour after hour in a hay field, who can say to you that a quiet room is better? Prayer is for everywhere. You are the pray-er; and you donít restrict yourself to a place or to a posture like kneeling. Let prayer envelop you in all you do.
Deirdre conveys what it is to be a free spirit, finding delight in open spaces and hidden corners. Oh, how free she is! Some folks say sheís too exuberant, but I like to think sheís wonderfully, idiotically, breezily free. Maybe theyíre jealous.
With the Psalmist, let us sing to God as we admire all His creatures, ďYou open Your hand and satisfy every living thingĒ (Ps 145:16).
Sr. Margaret Dorgan, DCM
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