A wanna-be monastic and the opening to prayer.

In one of those odd twists of synchronicity that often seem to happen to me, each of the six or so books I’ve read recently – both novels and non-fiction – have seemed to involve some sort of reflection on the monastic life. I’m not the sort of person to see divine instructions in the random coincidences of life, but it’s been enough to make me think. Not about joining a monastic order – although think of the blogging and journaling possibilities that such a journey would entail  – but the idea of the monastic life, centred on prayer and ritual, to which the bustle and demands of life’s busyness take a subservient role, is deeply attractive.

I’m strongly, gently called to the idea of folding my days around the beauty of prayer. The idea of pulling myself out of the bright and sharp impositions of my day to re-centre myself on the Sacred, in which I already and always have my being – I’ve known the importance, felt the pull of this for a long time – and yet, I’ve really done nothing about it. It shouldn’t be that hard to remove myself from the commotion of the day, even for the moments it takes to say a blessing – but it is. It should be a reminder that I am never separate from the Creator of the universe, in which I dwell and from whom I can never be apart. But there’s a barrier, to something that should be as natural as breathing.

It’s hard, to find that entry point, that opening to whatever passes for prayer in my mind. That door through which I can step away from the chatter and worries and to-do lists of my nine-to-five mind, into a space of openness and emptiness from which to acknowledge my place in the very Being of the Sacred, as well as Its place in my very being. I need that entry point, some small gentle ritual to provide a catalyst for that moment – and it needs only be a moment – of stillness.

My research skills are exemplary and my intellect and capacity to use words are such that I have no doubt that I can find, easily, some beautiful and poetic and theologically-appropriate opening to prayer, even if I have to write one myself. But doing that would be its own form of procrastination. Because a lack of words is not the real barrier.

The real barrier is this: fear. Because true, mindful engagement with the Sacred involves opening myself, and to open myself I must empty myself, and to empty myself I must let go of all those emotions and fears that I keep under such rigid contra. And that’s something, despite how hard I’m working on my own healing, that I’m too scared to do: I’m scared of what will happen when I let them out of my control.

Like pretty much else, it’s a work in progress. Like pretty much else, I’m hoping that the determination and the longing and the hoping, right now, are an ok substitute for the actual reality. Because I’m getting there – just not quite yet.


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