The Annunciation Trust

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Category: Prayer (page 1 of 2)

Finding Depth

I was lost – tired, overwhelmed, and angry. A wise woman once said to me that underneath anger is hurt or fear. I felt hurt. And frightened.

I s(k)ulk through the night.

In the early morning I leave resentment on the other side of the door. I find a way back to myself. I become my breath, become this body, become, by and by, the sensation of being alive.

This is not about inside vs. outside – the ‘inner’ journey as opposed to the ‘outer’.
It is the present moment – which I undergo in only snatches.
It is being alive, “breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat,” as James Finley says.
It is joy relishing being unexpectedly alive.
It is knowing this now, not waiting for it, not seeking it.
It is realising that I have never been anything other than rapt.

People say they want depth. What is meant by ‘depth’?
It is a word pointing at an experience that has nothing to do with what may be fathomed.
‘Depth’ is life pared back to its essence.
It is the no-feat-of-mine, ordinary (extraordinary!) awareness of life happening as me,
  God happening as me,
always present,
always given before and beyond any act of mine.

‘Me’ is a fraction of God-as-life happening as everything.

Where does all the time go?

[Syndicated from thisbody.info.]

The only 3 prayers you need

Too often prayer is presented as petition.
But the word ‘prayer’ is simply religious jargon for relationship with what we call God.
In truth there are only three prayers.

Prayer is properly not petition, but simply attention to God which is a form of love.

Iris Murdoch, On ‘God’ and ‘Good’ in Existentialists And Mystics

1. “Here I am.”

Inevitably, when I sit and pray in the morning I wish for a new, improved me. I lack kindness to myself. I try to think my way into becoming better. I try to think about how to sort out my life. I try to think about what to do. But thinking is not prayer.

Presence is prayer.

When I say, “Here I am,”
    I say it to myself,
    I say it to Life,
    I say it to the Universe,
    I say it to You,
        You who are always, inevitably present
        in and through and around…

When I say, “Here I am,” God, I mean,
    I don’t know what You are,
        and
    I don’t know what I am,
        but,
                nevertheless,
    “Here I am.”

This, I reckon, is enough.
Everything else is baroque.

This is presence.
    When all is said and done,
        “I just want to be with You.”

2. “Thank you.”

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…

American Beauty

Gratitude is prayer.

I might not have lived.
I am held alive by conditions I do not control.
One day,
    when the conditions change,
        I will cease to live.
Inspire…
    When I am present I feel this in this body,
        this breath.
    When I breathe there is gratitude.
Expire…
“Thank You.”

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted

Mary Oliver, Morning Poem, from Dream Work, p. 6

3. “Help me.”

I am so distant from the hope of myself.

Mary Oliver, When I am among the treesfrom Thirst

Kindness is prayer.

Notwithstanding,
I search outside myself for
    stimulation,
    satisfaction,
    solidity.
I am compromised,
    inordinately attached,
        addicted.
I lack integrity.
My heart is defended.
I cannot trust.
I fail to live.

Help me.
Please free me from
    all
that comes between me and You.


The point of prayer is not petition. It is the recognition of my need. When I am beyond redemption it (re)connects me with You.


Prayer is coming to God empty-handed, undefended, indigent – not that you are without worth, but your worth has nothing to do with you. Prayer involves vulnerability. We have to come as the glorious, fragile, messy, inadequate people we are. Needy. Unable to sort out our lives.

These three prayers help me to be present and connected even in my struggles. They are a kindness to myself. They require so little from me, which is a relief.

What is the prayer you need?

Follow this with:

[Syndicated from thisbody.info.]

Are we there yet?

Prayer space

Every day I go to my chair and I sit in the early morning light or dark. I set down my glass of water. I look into Your face. I’m pretty consistent about this. I get anxious if it is put off or I miss the appointment.

Every day I struggle.
I come with feelings of failure and inadequacy and waste.
I come wanting to be fixed.
I come to be sorted out.
I come wanting to know.
I come longing to be lifted up into a realm of light and eternity.
I come knowing there is so little time.

Every day,
if I give You the chance
amidst the barrage of longing and complaint,
You tell me to put all this to one side.
I can almost see You sweep the table
__________________________________ bare
with Your arm.
Every day You tell me,
“I just want to be here with you.”

Every day I struggle not say,
“But what about this?
and what about that?”
Every day I struggle to accept that
what I am is what You want.
It is not that I am enough,
“just as I am,”
but that any idea of being enough is a foolish mistake.
What could ‘enough’ possibly mean to You?

Every day I struggle to shut the fuck up and just let You be with me.
“Take a breath,” You say.
I want to know where this is going.
“This is it,” You say,
“We are here.”
I don’t get it. I never do.
I say, “Are we there yet?”
“Yes,” You say, “Yes.
We are here.”

I take a breath.
I feel it for a spell. Then,

“Yes, but…”

The timer goes. The hour is up.

It is never enough.

[Syndicated from thisbody.info.]

Salvation

People think
they are
not good
enough.

Salvation
is discovering
you don’t have to be.

[Syndicated from thisbody.info.]

The Kingdom of Heaven

It is Saturday morning. There is nothing I have to do – or nothing urgent. I sit at the open window in my pyjamas with the sunshine, the trees now in full leaf, the early morning birdsong, the air touching my face. This is what I want to do. This is how I want life to be always: nothing I have to do. I feel my upper chest relax, right into my shoulder joints, as I allow the truth and trust of this fully to sink in. Though it is my ritual upon waking to sit here, to pray and meditate, I don’t feel the need to do something ‘spiritual’. I want to sit and look out of the window and do nothing (except for the mostly unnoticed actions that occur autonomically: respiration, blood flow, peristalsis: this body is a dynamic system that does not rest – until it does).

I have a completely clear day. Nothing planned. No one about. I am wondering what to do. I decide to sit here until I find out what I want to do.

But then I realise: Sitting here, doing nothing, enjoying the edge of the rapture of being alive, is exactly what I want to do. For a few seconds, now and again, I choose to be aware of breathing and I feel the air on this body. How amazing it is to be alive! What a surprise! How shocking that I am of the Universe!

A stranger here, strange things doth meet, strange glory see,
Strange treasures lodged in this fair world appear,
Strange, all, and new to me: But that they mine should be who nothing was,
That strangest is of all; yet brought to pass.
Thomas Traherne, The Salutation

Frequently an impetus arises, a feeling that I ‘ought’ to do something, and there occurs a frisson of anxiety in my chest. My shoulder joints tighten up again. (A seemingly trivial example: Last week on Radio 3, there was a series of lunchtime concerts given by Michael Collins, a clarinetist I like. The acquisitive part of me wants to record these. And then this wanting turns into an imperative with a deadline (they are only available for a month on catchup) that I must fulfil or else they will be lost to me forever.)

Truly being alive, being with You, experiencing “the rapture of being alive”, is a continuous flow, like breathing, repeatedly receiving the unexpected and unwarranted gift of life, and then letting it go. This body is a sacrament of this flow: inhale, exhale; systole, diastole; ingestion, elimination; birth, death – inspire, expire.

Death is not the opposite of life. Holding on is.

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise
William Blake

When did the simple pleasure in being alive get overlaid with the need to possess – to have and to hold, from this day forward … till death us do part? When did amazement turn into amassing?

Repetition” is not holding on to an experience, of God or of consolation or insight. It is revisiting and remembering and realising the eternal truth and reality revealed in that experience. To have felt God’s love once is enough to know that I am loved now.

So, in looking out of the window, which is also looking at You, I am not trying to get or achieve anything, something I can hold onto. I am being alive, being with You. This is my deepest desire.

Human being is a gift that is only on loan for a while. Growing up and ageing comes with the increasing apprehension (in both senses: understanding and anxiety) of the inevitability of death. With this apprehension comes a desire to hold on to life. This holding on – and the reverse of the same coin, a refusal to embrace – is precisely the condition of the denial of life. You really cannot have your cake and eat it.

Otto Rank described this life stance with a wonderful phrase: “Refusing the loan of life in order to avoid the debt of death.”
Irvin Yalom, Love’s Executioner

“Unless you become like children,” that is to say, unless you rediscover the simple pleasure in being alive that allows everything to arrive and depart, “you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” which is right here, now and always, within and among us. You do not need to search for it because it is what you already are; you do not need to possess it because it is what you always will be.

[Syndicated from thisbody.info.]

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