Thursday, July 12, 2012

Redefining Prayer

When I was younger, I would internally mock the people I encountered who were obviously inspired by nature. It seemed so cheesy to me. It didn't feel real. Growing up in the Northwest, I suppose I have been spoiled by all of the breathtaking scenery I witness everyday. The grass really is greener here! Furthermore, as a girl I could look out the window of my room to see what is now the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden which is just behind my parents' property. Not too shabby!

So in my youth, when someone would be awed by let's say the mountains that I saw every single day, I would internally roll my eyes and mock them in my mind. "Oooooooo. Mountains. They're like really big. And there's like snow on them and stuff. Wooow. Sooooo amazing."
Mount Rainier from northwest
Mount Rainier from northwest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course I wouldn't let any of this show to whomever I was mocking. I would probably just nod and act like I was moved by nature too. But I wasn't. I just didn't get it. And while writing this now, it is occurring to me that I may really have been quite a brat.

I'll even admit that this continued some into adulthood. Early in our relationship, Jason and I would be driving and he would point out a small waterfall while we traveled over Steven's Pass or Mount Rainier on a sunny day. I would shrug my shoulders in response. I'd seen it a million times.

Thank goodness this aloofness toward my surroundings is a part of immaturity that I have grown past. Not only have I grown past this attitude, but I find myself evolving more and more into someone who craves being outdoors, who needs it, who is refreshed and re-energized by it, who finds peace, rest and wonder in it.

Last night, I began the post-children's-bedtime part of my evening sitting on the couch to watch So You Think You Can Dance. As I love dance, it is a show that I would like to get into. But because the actual dancing only takes up like five percent of the show and the rest is commercials and annoying judges, I got bored. I ended up getting on my computer, researching novels I would like to read and putting them on hold with our library--one of my absolute favorite pastimes. But when that was complete, I felt restless. So at about 8:45, I grabbed a blanket, some iced tea, a sliced peach and the book I've been intimidated to really begin, Shantaram. I spent the next hour outside reading.

And at the end of that hour, I found myself collected.

This is noteworthy because for various reasons, I have felt a little out of sorts the past few weeks. This disorientation of my self has been accumulating within me, more and more, so much so that yesterday morning I actually had a small pit beginning to grow in my stomach.

When I begin to feel this way, I often find that I am not spending much time in prayer or reflection. As a cradle Catholic, this brings on guilt. I do not pray a daily rosary. I do not go to daily Mass. I do not read my Bible every day. My mind tells me, "If you were doing those things, you wouldn't be feeling this way!" And while I understand the rosary now and like to pray it sometimes; while I appreciate and love the Mass and find joy in it in a way that I never did in my youth; while I do read my Bible frequently and go to it for answers--none of these things are easily put into my daily routine.

Easily. That is a key word in that sentence. And it is one that brings on guilt. It means that if I really made some of these things a priority, then I would make time for them. But in "making them a priority," I feel that they can often lose their purpose. They simply become something to check off the to-do list, rather than a genuine connection with God.

St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, believed that God is everywhere and in everything. This means that spending time outside, in God's creation, in itself can be a prayer when I am doing it with reflection, purpose and gratitude.

English: Lake Washington, Seattle
English: Lake Washington, Seattle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I can stretch this philosophy further by realizing prayer can also be taking the time to find quiet at the end of the day to read a novel and find God in the prose of my fellow man, last night in the case of Gregory David Roberts' words in Shantaram. By reading with reflection and intention, I can further understand another human's condition, perspective and experience.

During this glorious week of summer in Seattle, I am able to find God all around me--in the waves of Lake Washington, in my vegetable garden, in Veronica's hugs, in my boys' questions, in a great novel and in my backyard.

What better prayer is there than to seek out God in all that we see and do?

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  1. LOVE this post, lady! Oooh, mountains,"they're like really big!" :) hahahahaha!

  2. Thanks, dear! It's funny to admit all that now, but it's so true. And last night I was mesmerized by the sunset. Things have sure changed!


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