In the (majority white) progressive circles in which I live and parent, “prayer” is not often discussed. It almost seems to me like it could be a bad word among white progressives. Or at least an embarrassing word. It sounds so, so… irrational. So coercive, even.
Some people certainly have used prayer in some stupid and awful and deadening ways through the course of history. Prayer has been used to try and “cure” people of being gay, for example. Or it’s been used to dampen down emotions and longings that were rightly stirred up (like in women, and our many appetites–for more life, more power, more voice, more love, more organisms, etc).
But prayer as a tool for control of self and other is a gross misuse. And frankly, it doesn’t work for long, if at all.
In my mind, a more effective “use” of prayer is as a “marinating sauce” for a weary, frightened, or numbed-over human soul (like mine). In this way, prayer is not so much something I “use,” but showing up to be rendered “usable” to the great Source of Creation. In prayer I soak in the unbelievable experience of being Loved, beyond anything I could possibly earn. But that’s just what it means to me.
These political times we’re in call for a great coming out. The aspects of ourselves and our lives that we cherish privately but hide publicly, some of them our our best stuff. Our hidden jewels; the kind that multiply when shared.
So, I am coming out as a person of prayer. It’s my hidden jewel.
For those of you who know me as a Christian minister, it’s probably not shocking. But for those of you who know me through other circles, perhaps as a parent educator, public speaker or teacher in progressive communities, perhaps this is news.
But now you know. I am a devout person of prayer.
Prayer is the warm coal at the heart of my life that makes everything else possible. How I parent, how I live out my partnership with Niels, how I teach, how I preach and coach, how I have fun, how I heal, how I face myself when I’ve failed miserably, when I’ve hurt someone terribly, or how I take right action even when I’m terrified to… All possible because of the emanating coal of prayer that I tend in my heart.
I wonder if this could also be true for any of you?
In my religious tradition, we are about to start the season of Lent. I didn’t grow up in a church that observed the liturgical seasons of the year, but I’ve grown to love them in my adulthood. They hold me gently in time, when my nature is to scatter myself like dandelion seeds.
I love Lent in particular. It’s the 40-day period leading up to Easter. For me, it’s a time to be very intentional about letting go of distractions and re-focusing on what is most meaningful.
What feels most meaningful to me now, in this season of Lent–and where I feel called to place my focus–is standing in solidarity with Jews, Muslims, Immigrants, transgendered children and adults, black people, poor people… and others who are living with a familiar but now heightened sense of threat because of our current political climate.
I often pray in the morning. But this year, for the season of Lent (March 1-April 12, 2017) I will be holding a special prayer practice in solidarity with everyone living with a heightened sense of threat right now. I am going to open my prayer time to the public through a live feed on The Parents Way Facebook Page at 5:30AM Pacific Time. I’ll do this Monday through Friday until the end of Lent, on April 12. It will be short time of prayer, maybe 5 minutes.
I will be praying for the vulnerability in all of us, and praying for those whose bodies and rights are most vulnerable now. I will be praying for the strength in all of us, to face the truth, to take right action, and to stand in solidarity even when terrified.
My husband Niels will be praying alongside me in this. We would love for you to join us, however (and to whomever) you pray, whether prayer is a regular part of your life or not. If you are a person who meditates, you might join us with your meditation practice. You might even just sit in silence. And If you would like to join in the praying, but you’re not sure you know how, I’ve made a little instructional video that might help you know where to begin. The video is called Prayer for Progressive Thinkers and I’ve included it below.
Either way, know that we will be here each morning, holding our human vulnerability and our human strength in the light of Love; praying that we might all make it through these times and somehow find we have been miraculously remade into more of a whole people, stitched together newly, despite our beautiful differences.