Saturday, 8 March 2014

Prayer: Returning The Gaze

Sticking with God is not at all easy.
My first encounter with the Divine was a mystical one, and happened so long ago I half wonder if I dreamed it: but it was real, utterly profound, and it shaped who I think I am and who I believe She is. 
The difficulty is, my God doesn't appear to act the way lots of other people's God does. She's a lot bigger for a start... "Inhabiting everything" might explain it, but I doubt it. He doesn't intervene dramatically in human history. And, this is what has me up and about this morning: She doesn't appear to have grasped the purpose of prayer.
Or maybe, that should be the other way round?
I have largely given up on conventional prayer. Though I have a book of lists. Good lists. Full of names and places and things going wrong. In my disciplined days I would work my way diligently down my lists and conclude with a great big "Amen." Did my knee-time make any difference? Don't know. Some sick people got better, some didn't. Mankind still hovers this side of the precipice, and some people are a little better off than they were, I guess.  I am quite prepared to let God take the credit for the good stuff and hold off judging the rest. But it does all appear to be pretty random. 
Facing up to this without letting go of God is a necessary rite of passage for a grown-up believer. I am by no means through this, but here's what I say to God:
"Here's the bloody list. Do as you will, I trust you. Amen." 
Business over, I shut up. What is left to do, and could as well be the whole of it, is summed up in this quote by Fr Richard Rohr: 
"Prayer itself is simply receiving the ever-benevolent gaze of God, returning it in kind, mutually gazing, and finally recognizing that it is one single gaze received and bounced back. " 
It's love-making. 
Without the sex.

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