Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love. Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer. - Simone Weil Look, mama, look, do you see? A thousand times a day, tugging at my sleeve, calling out in the rearview mirror, yelling from upstairs, downstairs, around the corner, from the other room - look! Come quick! You have to see this! You have to see! Witness is part of parenthood. We watch a child becoming before our eyes. Awakening to the world at first. Alert for longer stretches each week, searching around the room with brand-new, blinking eyes. We watch and wonder: how did we help create this creation? We watch for the baby to smile, to laugh, to coo. Then to move, to roll, to crawl, to creep, to stand, to cruise, to totter, then triumphantly to walk. We clap and coax, we capture on camera: the marvel of witness. But swiftly the tide turns. When words meet movement, we must change, too. Now we are not simply the passive witness … [Read more...] about look, mama, look – do you see?
You are the hoping-to-be mother. You are dreaming of a baby, maybe for years. Every month you wait and hope. You daydream about nurseries and names. You envy other women's round bellies and glowing smiles. You chart days on the calendar and read up on ways to increase your odds. You promise yourself you will never take a single day for granted once it happens for you. I have been this mother, too. Part of my heart will always be here. . . . You are the expectant mother. You marvel at how your body is changing (and how hard pregnancy can be). You pour through books about what to expect. You wonder at the kicks and flips that keep you up at night. You count down to hear your baby's heartbeat and see their sweet profile on the ultrasound screen. You wash tiny onesies and snap belly shots and write a birth plan. You try to imagine how your world will be transformed in a few short months. I have been this mother, too. Part of my heart will always be here. . . . You are … [Read more...] about for all the mothers
While I'm busy writing prayers for two new books - a book of prayers for pregnancy and a collection of prayers, blessings, and hymns to celebrate callings in congregations - I've been thinking lately about how we shape the words of our prayers. Prayer is how we speak to God and how we listen to God. As a writer, I believe the beauty and meaning of the words we use for prayer matters deeply. When I studied theology in graduate school, I took two courses on liturgy from a wonderful priest who taught me nearly everything I know about sacraments. He also taught me (as an aside during a class on the Eucharist) a perfect pattern for prayer: You-Who-Do-Through. This ancient pattern is heard in Christian liturgy as a collect, a prayer which gathers (or "collects") the prayers of the people and offers them to God. Simple, yet powerful. Here's the formula: You: Address and praise God using divine titles. Who: Describe what God has done for us, either in Scripture or in our own … [Read more...] about You, Who, Do, Through: 4 easy steps to prayer
God breaks the heart again and again until it stays open. (Hazrat Inayat Khan) You have two choices when you feel it happening. You can let your heart stretch to the point of ripping open to the beauty and agony of living in this mortal world. Or you can pull the protective shield back over the vulnerable center. You can break or you can burrow. I have done both. Only one gives life. . . . This morning I will drive to the hospital early, before the roads crowd with commuters, before pale sun softens dark sky into grey. I will carry my son into the surgery center. I will let strangers wheel my baby away and put him under. I will watch the clock and chew my nails and pretend to read while the surgeon operates on him. A quick and simple procedure, the nurses promise. He will be fine, logic and lots of wiser people assure me. But what if? I still wonder. Always this is the winding worry that wraps around my thoughts. We each know the exception, the unexpected, the fluke, the … [Read more...] about until it stays open