I was a good boy the first few years of my life. I attended choir practice with my dad when Catholic masses were still in Latin. I’d lose my place and be struck with fear and confusion… only to have the old man beside me reach down gently and show me where to pick up and rejoin the others. It’s a fond memory.
I guess I was there with him in church singing in a language I didn’t understand because I could read. I doubt it was because of my voice as no remnant talent has been detected in that area of my personal expression for decades…
But I’d like to sing. Sure I would. I write instead. Perhaps that’s it, my heart sometimes sings when I write…
I also used to believe in God. Perhaps I still do but don’t know it. Back then, I just took everyone’s word for it but still, to me it seemed reasonable that someone was running things.
After choir, I was in altar boys (unmolested) and served for some years alongside my brothers and many others.
All during this time, I remember I often prayed.
My father used to usher us to bed with the order: “Teeth, tody, prayers.” Tody was our word for the toilet.
So, I’d brush my teeth, use the washroom, and say my prayers.
For a time, surely I must have prayed to God that I would not wet my bed. Yet, it was not until grade two that my prayers in this regard were finally answered.
But back in those days, we prayed “morning, noon and night,” as they say. It seemed normal and prayerful encounters in many circumstances were regularities.
We don’t pray anymore so much. I blame the gay cabal in the Catholic Church ruining it for everyone. Nietzsche called it, but we won’t shoot the messenger.
You can argue that one without me.
I left the Catholics and became an Anglican in 1987. Better to have priests who can marry went my thinking, for wherever there are children, there must also be women. So, I let a Bishop slap the Catholic out of me in front of the congregation. Team Human.
Nowadays, we have mindfulness. Mindfulness is our new prayer, it seems… only it’s not so new at all.
Considering its history right into the Bronze Age and the Indus Valley of India, breath and spirit have combined in a form of prayer for a long time. Possibly before we knew what prayer was, at least compared to the modern version.
I say fuck modern convention and I seek prayer… and act to pray, for prayer expresses a calling from the spirit. It is the spirit which speaks for the soul.
Nurturing that part of our existence brings the possibility of experiencing awe. Awe indeed.
Who has not been “awesomed” by a setting sun, the expanse of an ocean, or the heights of snow-capped mountains?
What about the Milky Way the first time you see them, far away from the lights of the city? And the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, making visible our atmospheric limitations?
And music which moves, paintings and art which captures, grand architecture which expands?
They say awe dwells right at the dividing line between excitement and fear. I like that conceptualization for it brings with it seemingly infinite potential and possibility.
When we bring awe into our world, we begin to see it everywhere… whereas before we may not have even known it existed.
Soon you see awe not just in nature, or in the blue skies and rising moon, but also in your spouse, your children, your coworkers and others around you. I sometimes see awe in you, yes I do.
You are awesome, really you are.
So, we have one hemisphere of the brain which is overwritten in childhood by an operating system predominantly focused on data, analysis, judgment and especially, conformity. It speaks in language and is focused on survivability and sociability.
While the other, the Master Hemisphere, understands language but utters not a word. Rather it speaks in feelings and flashes of insight.
Thomas Edison advised us back in the day ”Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”
Isn’t that what prayer was for?
I’m not a true believer in the sense that I don’t profess my faith conventionally. That doesn’t mean to say I will claim, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual,” instead either.
It’s just that I prefer to see God as Good Orderly Direction, as my father suggested we do some decades ago when my son struggled and balked at the Scout Oath. Son #1 didn’t buy it, but the acronym lesson has been useful ever since. I’m loyal that way.
I see God as a metaphor for nature and the universe. Later I learned that was Spinoza’s idea so I’m a Pantheist I suppose.
What the fuck do I know? Oops, that makes me Agnostic.
I’m fine with not knowing. I don’t need to know.
In this way, I keep my bargain with my deceased mother when she told me on her deathbed, “Christopher, you’ve got to have a little faith,” and I promised I’d leave room in my life for mystery.
Mystery can be a lot of fun. Scary sometimes, but exciting too.
So I pray. I combine prayer and gratitude and Edison’s advice and often ask my soul what it wants before I go to sleep. What am I feeling, I ask myself. What do I want, I add to my requests.
Last week I had some questions swirling around me while I was on a training, and it was suggested I ask God the following:
What do I see?
What do I hear?
What do I feel?
What do I know?
What do I need to do?
So, like a good Catholic boy turned Anglican man, I did what I was asked without faith or question. I said my prayers.
At 4am I was awoken with answers that came in as clearly as shafts of light through an open east-facing window from a rising sun in a cloudless sky. Clear enough?
It was pitch black outside, but the lights turned on inside me.
I had my answers.
Luckily, I know how to hypnotize myself back to sleep.
I did it again, and then again. Several nights and each night or the next morning at some point, answers came to me… always before noon.
I have a list of questions. I may save them up…
It’s free to be nice I say. It’s also free to pray and be nice to yourself and find answers like people have been doing for at least 2500 years and probably since the dawn of man.
I send you blessings of power and love. And prayers too.
Let us all pray.
This is the day…