In the past I spent a lot of time on my knees praying. A rough estimate of 20 minutes a day for 25 years computes to over 3,042 hours. So, what was I doing all that time? Or, a better question, what did I think I was doing?
I chanted the Lord’s Prayer at school, but my real prayer life started at nine years old, when my parents joined a fundamentalist, cultish Christian religion. From then on, my prayers were off-the-cuff, straight from the heart, fresh, unedited. Every morning for years I emitted a silent, rambling, mental monologue that I tried to make interesting so God wouldn’t fall asleep while listening to me.
What did I say?
I gave thanks (for food, for the Bible, for the fact that I knew the Truth).
I asked for things (a fine day for the church picnic even though the farmers were crying out for rain, a kinder heart, safety for the ministers preaching the gospel of the imminent return of Jesus Christ to the war-torn world of the 60s and 70s, forgiveness for my sins).
I asked questions that were never answered (Why were you so mean to Adam and Eve when they were just brand-new humans? Why were you so cruel to all the Egyptians, instead of just sorting out Pharaoh? Who made you? When are you coming to make the world a safer place? Why do the ministers have fancy cars while we drive an old bomb?
I praised him (less and less as time went on).
Then I finally got sick of talking to a god who was cruel, uncommunicative, and definitely not coming.
My prayers suddenly ceased. It was like turning off a dripping tap. Switching off a flickering light. Stilling a fretful wind.
Instead of chucking pleas and questions to an unanswering sky, I settled quietly into myself and went about the business of living the best life I could, justifying myself to no one, finding my own way.
But something was missing.
What was it?
Not prayer, but communion.
I was missing communion with all things.
Prayer had given me the illusion that I had communion because I thought I was talking to the being responsible for the creation of all things.
The potential for true communion was there all along but I couldn’t sense it because it had been blocked by pointless prayers to a phantom personality – male, bearded, judgmental, and sitting on a throne wearing a perpetual frown.
Communion could be described as the highest form of prayer. It doesn’t involve entities, entreaties, pleas, hopes or petitions. It’s a whole-being expression of unity, intimacy, empathy, and relationship with all things.
Communion is possible at any time, any place, in any position. It doesn’t need to be on a holy day, in a place of worship, on my knees. I can be up to my elbows in flour making bread, driving fast along Highway Number One, or bent over at the rubbish tip depositing recyclable items. Or I can enter a state of communion in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.
Communion is peaceful, undemanding, and packed to the brim with gratitude.
Communion is an acknowledgement that I am part of the whole.
Communion is total acceptance of what this moment holds.
There’s no need to ask for anything more.
With love, Marlane