Prayer

I’ve been thinking about prayer this weekend, for a couple of reasons. First, because as I was walking down an empty hallway at school last week I whispered a prayer. An honest to goodness, beginning to ending prayer, professed in the manner with which I was raised. And second, because I’m sick again this weekend. When I’m coming down with some kind of infection, my first clue is everything becomes impossible. Emotions swamp me and next thing I know I’m hiding in my bathroom crying my eyes out because everything I do is hopeless and I will never touch my dreams.

As some of you may have heard, I have a new book available on Amazon. I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to tweak a beautiful cover I purchased to satisfy Amazon. I still haven’t managed it. I’ve kept telling myself I’m not going to blog about it till I have it just so. Thus, partway through the week I found myself fighting tears of frustration while walking down an empty hallway and I tripped and fell headfirst into my childhood. The prayer was short and fervent, after which I straightened my big girl panties and got on with my job. That was that.

By Friday night I was a quivering soggy mess, hiding in my bathroom. Cursing myself for being so foolish as to even whisper the words, heartbroken with loneliness and swearing up and down that I am finished tutoring the sweetest kid on the planet because for the life of her she cannot stop sneezing, coughing and blowing her nose as we crouch over books together in 6X6 room. I mean, the poor kid has been sick since Christmas and my immune system is in full rebellion.

So, what does this have to do with prayer? praying-614374_1920

I’ve learned not to pray and it bothers me greatly that sometimes I slip up and beg for a miracle. I was raised saying personal prayers twice a day, family prayers twice a day, prayers at mealtimes (yes, all three), and was encouraged daily to pray for others, for their health, for their safety, for their blessings. I even knew a girl in high school who prayed before she bought a pair of shoes, unwilling to make even that simple choice without guidance. Just to be clear, back then at the height of my religious practice, I thought she was a nitwit.

What happened? Well, no one thing, that I know for sure.

Life wore me down, blessings were few and far between at a time I was working harder than I ever had to be worthy, and still the water was closing over my head. It was about this time that my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I redoubled my prayerful efforts. I fasted, I donated more time to my church, I laid awake at night crying and praying. I honestly say, I have never offered myself in any more heartfelt manner.

It took a year or so before I realized I couldn’t continue in that manner and survive. A year after that, I finally realized that I was not making any difference, but I was making myself crazy.

I haven’t prayed since. No, not once, until earlier this week. Today as I laid in bed, willing myself to be better by Monday, I wondered, was it the impending illness, the stress of trying to get the paperback ready, the grind of my current personal situation…what brought me back to that childlike place where words we utter into the air, magically bring about miracles? Yes, no doubt the perfect storm of all of the above.

The reason I write about it here, is for my own clarity. I write it down here because I’ve never said out loud that if prayer couldn’t be bothered to save my mom, a woman who never missed a chance to pray, and I mean pray like there is no tomorrow for fifteen or twenty minutes while her children passed out from starvation around her…, what chance do I have, me with my wilful temperament, my carnal heart and selfish dreams.How dare I attempt to fool myself into thinking all is well, by whispering a few words to the sky? If the most devout can pray for years and fail, then what does prayer really mean? What good is a prayer uttered by the wicked and the woefully impious?

 

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19 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. Yeah. I haven’t prayed for a specific thing since I was a teen and had more or less the experience you describe above. It’s pointless. But I still pray a lot. I won’t give you the whole rationale, but it’s one of the ways I learned to talk to myself as a child before I had learned any other ways to do it. I suppose, when I pray in that desperate way, I’m telling myself how badly I need something.

    I hope the kid gets over the germs and you do, too. That feeling of feeling overwhelmed sounds awfully familiar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a fascinating idea! I’ve never thought of it as a way of telling myself how much I need something. A way of verbalizing something I don’t feel comfortable speaking to anyone else about.
      Periodically I think I hit that wall of months of work and all I can see is brick in front of me for forever, you know? Especially when I’m not physically 100%, It becomes my world and is suddenly untenable.

      Like

      1. If I’d had any idea how important being physically centered would be when I got older … well, I’ll leave it at that. I can’t believe how demanding my body has become on my time.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sending hugs!

    Your feelings about prayer mirror my own. My Mom suffered for years with one illness after another. She prayed. The church members where we went as a kid and she went until she passed prayed. I prayed. Yet, still she suffers and no amount of praying changed anything.

    Then my son’s addiction issue made me rethink some type of meditation and/or prayer. The only difference now is I am more spiritual about it yet in no way does it seem “religious.” I am not as consistent about meditation/praying but it is in my tool bag.

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry about your mother, Carly. The question you explore here is a bit out of my wheelhouse. You are a child of nature and no less deserving of grace than any among us. Attributes you list as making you unworthy are traits shared by all…indulged by most. It is in our collective nature to be as you are. All is one and one is all. Be it prayer, meditation, reflection, long runs, writing, or time to dream…it is always a good idea to center our swirling thoughts and find clarity. And…don’t procrastinate๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. Thank you, Michael.
      One of these days I’m going to take all the times you’ve made me cry with your various writings, out of your hide. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜˜
      It’s certainly a reflection of how I was raised, my reaction to anything I grew up believing to be sub-par behavior.
      The struggle to center myself goes on, I admit I haven’t found the right combination for personal bliss, but I’m much closer than I was even a year ago.
      Why is it someone who can procrastinate with the best of them cannot somehow turn that into an endless supply of patience?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m covering my rear already๐Ÿ˜… Maybe you are being too hard on yourself. You are a very busy woman. You take care of what needs to be done…and that is A LOT! It’s okay to chill and recharge, you know? Sometimes you don’t feel like slaying dragons and that’s okay ๐Ÿ˜˜

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