Brian’s Reflection: Monday, January 9, 2012
Praying is like a rocking chair –
it'll give you something to do,
but it won't get you anywhere.
Gypsy Rose Lee, American Striptease
artist; she was born on this date, 1914,
First, Miss Lee is absolutely right! (Read on: there is a “Second”.) She gives me the opportunity to mount one of my favourite hobby horses and expound ….. yet again! Bottom line: There is no “God” sitting somewhere “out there” who listens to all our prayers and makes decisions about “granting” them based on some inscrutable moral or spiritual code. As a matter of fact, there is no “God” without You or Me. Without You or Me, “God” is just a fiction ….. because the second bottom line is that Deity is not possible, except in an ephemeral, fantastical way, without Us. “God” and “We” are One ….. and we can’t Be without Each Other.
If there is to be “answer to prayer”, it’s only going to happen in the love affair between Us and God. God is not a Celestial Autocrat, tweaking Existence to Her delight or whim. The enterprise of Prayer is a child born of a passionate marriage between the Great Mystery called Humanity and the Great Mystery called “Divinity”. Miss Lee, consummate striptease artist, is a grand theologian …. clergy take note!
Second: Miss Lee is absolutely wrong! Prayer, rightly understood, will get you EVERYWHERE! Prayer is essentially the striving to become One with the great Mystery of Life. And learning to Pray is a lifetime Art! I know what it is to pray. I’ve been at it, in my own strange way, for more than 45 years, layperson, monk, and priest. Boy, did I have to unlearn a LOT! Prayer is not Magic. Nor is it the politics of out-maneuvering God. Nor is it the abdication of the glory of being human ….. for, any God who would demand such an abdication is not worthy of worship. Prayer is the art of “coming round right”. And it can be a long process ….. because Prayer demands the rejection of every single delusion and illusion about Self. Suffice it to say, we human beings do not make this Journey easily or for the most part gracefully. Prayer has no “answer” until we stand naked and real, before “God” and before ourselves. Only at that moment is there an “answer to prayer” ….. because the God of Love would NEVER collude in falseness.
To my mind, Prayer is the art of arriving at the moment when there is no differentiation between Us and God. It is hard work! Well, perhaps not “hard”, so much as requiring the surrender of Self to the unimaginable Compassion of Existence. When that happens, it is like being swept into a spiritual Black Hole ….. out of which we emerge into Joy.
The first step is: make no step in Life without Silence.