Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ceaseless prayer...an invitation to Non-virgins, Full-timers and Parents...

"Like lightning to the children eased
Through revelation kind
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind
-Emily Dickinson

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul encourages believers to "pray without ceasing." A literal translation of the verse is to pray incessantly. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "incessantly" means "continuing without interruption."

There are many voices, traditions and practices that seek to understand and implement a form of obedience to this mysterious phrase. For many its a high bar that seems out of reach and it's heights immediately evokes a sense of hopelessness, failure or guilt. For others it's a spring board for a host of duties that one would engage in on top of every other activity of the already busy day. Some find a mystical invitation to some sort of zen like state that a really devout or committed disciple might attain. But only if she was able to denounce, refuse and avoid the many temptations and practical duties of day to day life. Other's shrug their already wearied "devotional" heavy shoulders and leave it to the monks, virgins and widows.

I am beginning to see it more as an invitation to turn the present into petition or praise.

I pass a homeless man walking a dog with one really nasty eye that needs healing. I pray.
I get inundated with exhaust from a passing city bus and the smell instantly takes me back to Amsterdam. I pray.
I am mesmerized by the iceberg blue sky. I praise.
I pass a discarded marijuana pipe. I pray.
I hear a mother screaming at her child. I repent.
I see water melting down a hill and rocks and turning again back into icicles. I praise.

Moments becomes icons for prayer or praise that makes life like prayerful incense. Gentle, soft and holy.
My daily life becomes the chapel, sanctuary and monastery.
I do not cease living, experiencing, working, parenting, husbanding...it all becomes the wick that is lit by a mindful heart.

This is the path of prayer that doesn;t require a temple...but instead, turns the world into a temple...or as Jesus called it...house of prayer.

Now that's a home...I can live within.
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