Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Practicality of Prayer

Just spent almost four days with a sweet deaf dog in a spot where silence reigns. Those blissfully quiet days got me thinking, thinking about the importance of prayer. While I was there, I did my morning routine of barefoot prayer to get my day going. The grass wasn't frozen and the prayers were longer in this temperate clime. While I was there, I gave thanks for the wonder of my food. Organic, vegetarian, local food was my fare, purchased from a fine market near my nest. While I was there, I offered pleas for the well being of those loved ones whose lives are marred by cancer and Alzheimer's and addiction. While I was there, I asked for help for myself, help to stay on track, to keep on making a difference in folks' lives every day.

While I was there I knitted. The yarn was a lovely green/blue blend, looking hand-dyed, with an appropriate color name: Reef. I knitted Reef into a soft, comfy sweater that I'll use through the spring and summer. As I knitted, I prayed. I tried to infuse each stitch with a blessing. I tried to pulse each stitch with the peace, the serenity of this place. My hope was that, when I finish this sweater and wear it, I will be ensconced in the calm of this green spot. My prayer is that the frenetic worry and fuss of my common day will be replaced by the soft quiet of rolling hills and birdsong. That was my prayer as I knitted.

Praying while knitting is pragmatic. It's looking forward to a garment that protects, that shields, that somehow imparts good things to the wearer. Praying while knitting is also like using a rosary or prayer beads. It's giving the routine motion of thread over, pulled through a cosmic meaning. Each touch, a new prayer.

"What practicalities other than knitting have my prayers addressed?" I wondered as yarn whirled around me. I thought of the guidance from my treasured grief counselor.

I had told her about fearing for my daughter's well-being at 3:00 on a certain Wednesday and finding out later that, at 3:00 on that certain Wednesday, an idiotic driver had changed lanes without looking, forcing my daughter onto the shoulder of the road. My grief counselor talked to me about my strong spiritual connection with my daughter and the importance of using that union soundly. She asked me if I believe in the power of prayer and I assured her I do. She said, "Then you believe that thoughts can impact events?" I assured her I do. She then said, "Be careful what you think about your daughter, lest you inadvertently impact events. Instead of fretting about your daughter's safety while she's driving, send her an angel of alertness."

I really like that idea and I do it often, particuarly when I know that my daughter's town has nasty winter driving conditions. "Here, let me send you an angel of alertness," I pray. "I know you are an excellent, defensive driver and that you watch oh so carefully for inattentive, aggressive, dangerous drivers who may cause you harm. I add my prayer of alertness to your solid set of tools."

I like the practicality of that prayer, like an emergency flasher in the trunk or a five gallon jug of water in the garage or a couple hundred dollars tucked away in case a power outage cripples ATMs. That prayer, and many others I send, are not glamourous, dramatic pleas, but simple messages of good intent, simple charges of psychic energy directed at bringing good things to this world.

Recently my dog Sadie was ill, not able to keep her food or even water down. I took her to her fine vet and followed his advice. I felt confident that, with the medical care, the vigilance at home, AND the prayers sent for her recovery, she'd be back to her goofy self soon. I did not want to catastrophize this infirmity into something terrible, as some of my friends did. I did not want to pray her into a dark corner. So my Sadie prayers zeroed in on boosting my running buddy back to her "normal" hyper energetic state, sending powerful thoughts that she'd be on track in days. And she was. Don't know how much of the credit my prayers should get. Don't care. She's back at it, running as fast as she can, loving every blessed minute of each sprint.

The practicality of prayer: knitting peace into a garment, girding my daughter as she drives, helping my dog get back on track. Prayer is one of the hardworking staples of my life, something I need and use each day. I give thanks for the gift of prayer.

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