a still life of prayerful devotion by aronki
We have all experienced them–those days. Those crappy days where almost as soon as you wake up you know, you just know that its going to be a rough one.
You stub your toe on the way to the bathroom, the bowl of cheerios tips over–after you had added in the milk of course. You open your inbox to a bitchy client complaint, the bank account is not where it should be, coffee scorches your freshly pressed white shirt, your iphone is low on batteries, hell you are low on batteries, and your supervisor springs a last minute mandatory after work meeting on you so you have to call your mom and ask her to pick up the kids from school…again.
Yup. Big ole suckity suck days–we all have them from time to time.
Or maybe its more subtle. Maybe sales this month haven’t been where they should be and you are feeling…pinched, pale, listless, desperate, and cheap all at the same time.
And you catch yourself in the mirror, stepping into the shower, coming into the front door thinking…why me? why now? why can’t it be easier? why the crappy luck/day/week/year/life? WTF?!
You want blessings? Baby, then you’ve got to BE a blessing!
You want ease? Try bringing grace into someone else’s life.
Need more cash? The best time to be generous is not when you are in the money, its right now, right here, and right away.
It sounds all backwards I know, but empirical data proves it again and again-withholding the best of yourself until you feel like you have enough to give means you will have your finger on the “hold” button forever. Giving more, giving brighter, giving it all right now boomerangs goodness back into your life-guaranteed.
Start with prayer. Make it a priority. Five minutes. Thirty minutes. Om Shanti Om. The Shema. Lord hear our prayer. We all come from the Goddess. Silence. Or one of my personal faves-told to me by a doctor whose good friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer…Dear God, what the hell? Don’t wait until its the right time/vibe/moment. Most mornings at my house involve a cup of coffee, on the swing, keeping one eye on the kiddo and one eye on the sky as I sing out my prayers and praise-it does not look “spiritual” and that does not matter.
I can tell you with 100% assurance that the days I pray are better, brighter, and flow with more grace than the days I don’t. Is everything perfect on those days? Hardly. Does it make a difference? Oh yes.
Prayer is an offering. You lay yourself out, warts and all, before your understanding/vision of the divine. You step into time out of time, into a numinous space where wholeness and holiness become one.
Prayer is a habit. You have to do it repeatedly, just like a sitting meditation. Some days you will feel it move through you enlightening and enlivening and other days it will feel like rote words falling from your lips. Get up the next day and do it again.
Praying gives you a discreet opportunity to whisper or heap blessings onto those you love, those you are related to, your friends, and yes, even perfect strangers. Blessings sent equal blessings received. Prayer inspires generosity. It takes us out of our ego selves for a moment and reminds us that we are connected, dependent, divine, so very small, so very full of life. It re-acquaints us with all that we do have, possess, can do–and points out that others would give anything to walk in our shoes-it encourages us to be generous with others, and you know what happens then? We are generous with ourselves and those around us, those we love.
Does it sound like I am giving you lots of selfish reasons to pray? Maybe I am. I don’t care what gets you to your sacred moment with the Divine-I only care that you get there.
Art helps! There are many beautiful images that you can focus on to help yourself get into a prayerful state of mind. The orthodox understanding of an icon is a sacred image which can create a window or a doorway to the divine-so allow yourself to consider what images do that for you. As a Tarot reader I like to work with the cards and because many of my readers will pull cards for themselves here are two that definitely point out the need for some prayer time:
The Hierophant or "Pope" card from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck
The High Priestess card from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck
Don’t know how to start? Sit quietly. Sway to your own heart beat, or stand and dance before the Lord like King David. Circle with three friends or let your cat sleep on your lap while you stroke her head. Pray out loud, quietly, or sit in silence. Here are some prompts for those that are out of practice:
“Blessed Lord/Goddess/Universe…thank you for (what are you thankful for?), please bless the lives of (name your people), bring us all wisdom, grace, compassion, and above all, love. Amen.”
Chant Om. It is the fundamental and core sound of the universe according to stodgy Sanskritists and devout Hindus–two very different groups of people-they are onto something I think.
Sing the Libana song–“there’s a river of birds in migration/a nation/of women with wings.”
Here is the one I was raised with, you may know it as the 23rd Psalm-it is a general prayer tonic, sometimes one needs to refer to God in Her feminine form, sometimes it is perfect just as it is:
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
(S)He makes me to lie down on green pastures.
(S)He leads be beside still waters. (S)He restoreth my soul.
(S)He leads me on the path of righteousness for his/her namesake.
Yea though I walk in the Vally of the Shadow of Death…I will fear no evil.
For thou art with me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies,
Thou annointest my head with oil.
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever-Amen.”
Or…here is a prayer that I wrote for mama earth…and you:
Blessed be my feet that walk upon your face.
Blessed be my knees that bow before your grace
Blessed by my womb origin of creative power
Blessed by my heart for it is love’s bower
Blessed by my lips as they speak with wisdom & truth
Blessed be my eyes-clarity always in old age and in youth
Blessed be my mind and the workings there within
Blessed be my Ancestors may they watch me from here until the end
May I walk in beauty, may I seek true peace, may I sing in bright truth
As I will so may it be.
Take a breath. Take three. Rise up in your strength and beauty. Go do your work. Fill your purpose. Live bright and love hard. Amen!