As a child I loved collecting rocks and stones. I have a vivid memory of standing ankle deep in Elk Lake searching the stones below for Petoskey stones. I loved the way those particular stones appeared plain and boring (or at least unremarkable) when they were dry but came alive with fossil markings when wet or polished. Of course the markings were always there, even when I couldn’t see them. Each one is unique and beautiful in its own right.
Sometimes I feel this way about stories, that I am always listening for them and enjoy the gift each one brings. Rachel Naomi Remen is a gifted physician and therapist who has journeyed with many people through many things. She has a powerful way of capturing the essence of life and love and healing, allowing all the beauty and power of truth hidden in those stories to emerge with brilliance for all to see. Her books Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessing have the effect of water on Petoskey stones, making visible deep wisdom there all along.
One of her many insights concerns prayer. For a long time, she didn’t believe she prayed at all, since she didn’t resonate with petitionary prayer. But at some point she began to realize that prayer is like knowing, as a child, that you are not alone in the house. You just know:
But I realize that, for me, prayer is this knowing. It is an experience of relationship that never changes, like gravity. Gravity is the way I experience my relationship to the Earth. Gravity is a factor in my every movement. Everything I do takes gravity into consideration, all the time. Even though I’m unaware of it, every movement I make is a dance with gravity. God is like that, a constant relationship, and, like gravity, if It stopped I would know it instantly. But It never does.
Her full essay on prayer is linked here. Personally, I like the image of gravity for prayer. I believe prayer is like those Petoskey stones as well. It is a pattern etched deep within us, even when we cannot see it. Sometimes reading how other people understand and experience prayer can help us to see how prayer is operative in our own lives, often in ways we never even considered prayer.
Many of us in the Diocese are reading Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow together, and each week the bishop shares a reflection on that chapter, inviting conversation. What are your images of prayer? How do you experience prayer and how it impacts you? What are your questions about prayer? What do you wonder?
Each week I put an invitation for responses to the reflections in the PS of my weekly email. Someone pointed out to me that they often don’t even see that invitation! So I am moving up that invitation. I would truly love to hear your thoughts either via email, the ‘blog’ where others can see your response, or in person. I’m curious what you think, as we stand ankle deep in Lent. I’m eager to see what you see. Let’s face it, I still love collecting!