| ANNE WILLIAMSON |
I remember my Ethics professor in seminary saying, "The worst thing Mr. Rogers did for you kids is convince you of your specialness." Intentionally provocative, he also believed it. In an academic field that plays so often in absolutes and the consequences of conduct, catering to the individual can be a dangerous game.
I understand this perspective. Too often in our society, the world, we over emphasize the unique, special individual. This leads to myopic points of view. I fail to see - or choose to ignore - how my choices impact others, and consequently, others suffer. It also leads to some nauseatingly terrible commercials. Two words: perfumes, cars.
We can also under emphasize our specialness, though. Religions have certainly stumbled here. Whether extinguished in the non-dualism of eastern religions or contained in the rulebooks of western religions, the individual personality has often been denigrated.
Can there exist a happy middle ground? Can we be both special and One? I hope so. I think so. LEARN. LISTEN. LOVE.
For the past four weeks, this blog and the WAYfinding groups have been exploring prayer. Prayer exists at the intersection of the individual and God. It lives where specialness and personality meet our interconnectedness and it's blurring of our distinctions, the One. Consequently, the act of prayer serves as a microcosm for, and a practice in, balancing these things.
On the one hand, our personality demands permission to come to God by any means. To understand prayer as any posture, any way, any act where I'm, where you're, intentionally connecting to the deepest part of yourself, to God. Your specialness draws you to discover the prayer practices that work for you, make sense to you, resonate in you. I'm a proponent of this!
I also think prayer is not all about you, about me. This is the other hand, our interconnectedness, the All, the One, God. In balanced prayer, we allow God to "speak" as much as we do. We allow our interconnectedness, the One, to come to us by any means too. We allow It to expand us, rattle us, surprise us, move us.
The guideposts for prayer, I think, are the same guideposts for life. Come to it honestly. Speak, move in ways that stir your soul. Give yourself permission. But, in this, be quiet enough to listen, open enough to hear, change, love well. It's not all about you. Don't make it all about you. If you do, you'll not only miss the utter wondrousness of prayer, you'll miss the utter wondrousness of life.
What do you think? What resonates for you? What questions have arisen? Ask them, and keep wondering and listening.
Read these words, perhaps several times, perhaps out loud. Especially that last part: "Then I'd just feel a prayer." What do you hear? What stirring in you? Keep listening.
Out of what is resonating in you, set a loving intention this week. Share it with a/Another.
My suggestion is to consider and try writing your personal prayer. What would it say? If you don't know, consider... What words most resonate for me right now? What words do I most need to hear? Does the world most need to hear? Then, write your prayer from here. Or, simply place each word in the lovingkindness meditation phrasing of "May I be [insert word]. May I be [insert another word]. Etc." Say this prayer to yourself, for yourself, and then for others, "May you be [insert word]. May you be [insert another word]. Etc."