Thursday, May 2, 2013

Not because it's National Prayer Day.

Some favorite forms of prayer are f*** riddled screams, cries in the bathroom and plate shattering sprees. There's also horseback riding, ceremonial "every letter she ever gave me" burnings and deep sea swimming. The trick to prayer is doing it with abandon. This is a multistep process:

1) First, bob and weave around your spiritual baggage. Your Pentecostal mom may have burned you with an iron for buying TeenBop. Your sloppy-drunk priest uncle may have drawled that you're going to hell because you're gay. Your college professor may have espoused the virtues of Buddhism through a choking cloud of pot smoke. Your best friend may now angrily push the Hijab. If we want, we can squarely refuse these people's definitions of faith. Not letting them or their examples push us into or out of our right faith can be the most rewarding way to make them irrelevant.

2) Next, get over the ego discomfort. We can get on our knees at a new church and suddenly fear, "Do I look like that lady who dances with a snake and a bible to 'You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings' right now?" Or we finger a meditative mantras book at Whole Foods and have flashes of that guy who dressed up as a Tent Monster at Occupy protests and is uncomfortably flexible in yoga. We have to sort of surrender to that possible asp swinging, down-dog crotch tear of humility just to get started. 

3) And of course, pick your God. The Trinity? Buddha? Thetans? The angry ghost of Richard Dawkins? Jesus seems cool, but lots written about him seems kinda sprinkled with generous bits of crazy. Buddha's nice too, but according to him he may have obliviated into chaos bliss so probably can't hear our prayers. We're not praying to Tom Cruise. And Richard Dawkins might bite our hand with derisive ghost teeth if we try to reach out. We have to courageously forge through this jungly ambiguity of contradicting doctrine to find God. Pieces of the truth puzzle can lie under the weirdest looking rocks. 

4) The hardest part. Face God's failures. That's right. I said it. There are moments, lots of them, when God seems to stand back and watch us fall. God watched us be hurt, badly, and did nothing. God maybe even pushed us down. This does not bode well for God. God looks cruel, persecuting, or nonexistent. Why  pray to that? 

Well, what's the alternative? 

Nihilism? Chaos theory? Bunking down with Richard Dawkins' bones? They're not very uplifting ideas. And maybe just maybe, there is a Thing out there who created everything. And since "everything" includes you, thought and love, "Thing" could think about and love you. This is just as likely as Thing hating you. Or not existing. 

But most of all, when you know you need help, and you know people fail, praying (whatever that means) to God (whatever that is) can seem worth a try. 

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