Praying

posted by Angelee Garcia, May 31 2013

 
Praying
 
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
 
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

 

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

 

I’ve kept Mary Oliver’s “Praying” tacked to a corkboard in my room for years. The small slip of cardstock has become lost among family photos and save-the-dates, rubber bands and reminders. Prayer itself has become lost among my own questions and circumstances. Most often the simple inquiry of why pray to a God who knows everything, who will choose what to reveal and what to keep hidden? stunts any prayer that might flow from, or form, my heart.

The Biblical statute, “pray without ceasing” baffles me. This is why it is both a blessing and a mystery to find myself as an intern at Eighth Day. Morning prayer begins at 7:30. Weekly discussions on prayer and praise follow a meal with fellow nurturers and students who practice the art of cultivating the soil of their souls. Before lights-out my bunkmate reads a Psalm, and often repeats it out loud for me to hear. I am surrounded by such abundance and witness to the Creator’s generosity. Me. The one who can hardly muster a prayer of thanks or a petition for a brother or sister.

Surely God already knows the “small stones,” as Mary Oliver alludes to, that I have to offer back to him. Yet he still commands us to pray. To offer him the things he already knows. To say this is all I am, and all I can hope, in faith and surrender, yielding to whatever rain might fall, whatever sunshine might bless, whatever drought might stifle.

After a week of weeding and planting in what was once a literal vacant lot, small prayers that open up the “silence in which another voice may speak” are all I can muster. If by grace I can put on the discipline of praying for a family member or a faraway friend in the midst of pushing onion bulbs and planting a few broken pepper stems, that will be more than I could ask for.

God, teach me swift, nonsensical surrender to you. Still my spirit. Teach me to weed out the darkness that squelches my thanks, to trust that your creation, your decrees are indeed good.

 

Learn about intern, Angelee Garcia