Wednesday, June 16, 2004


I really am not sure how to pray.

Lately, at breakfast, I bow my head for a minute before I eat and think, "Thanks, God, for Phoebe-ness and (my husband)-ness, (my dog)-ness, family-ness, and friends-ness." And mostly my purpose is to acknowledge that I'm grateful for my own life, for my family's and friends' lives, and for the blessings derived from the ways all of our lives intersect.

I'm not always a good person, I fear. I certainly make a lot of mistakes. I can be judgmental, impatient, compulsive, undisciplined, lazy, moody, dishonest, jealous, petty... There's more, too, I know. But there is also in me a functioning moral compass, I think. And a capacity to observe myself misbehaving, and to have regret, and enough so to be motivated to try to avoid misbehaving and/or to make amends when, for whatever reason, I don't seem to be able to prevent it. I don't know how effectively I end up, from a whole of the cosmos perspective, offering a more positive than destructive contribution to the world, but at least within the very small context of my immediate life and its observable impact, I believe I do all right.

Purely by the grace of God.

To be honest, I'm not sure what God is. I have an experience with something that calls me out of my self-absorption to recognize my connectedness with all the people and life around me. And my experience with that something also, whenever I'll let it, fills me to overflowing with love --- for myself, for those around me, for strangers, for the world. God seems like as good a name as any for that.

And, as noted above, I talk to God. Often, giving thanks, as above, for the fact of me and of my capacity to reflect on, and consciously experience life and whatever "me-ness" is. Occasionally, whining about or outright railing against things I perceive to be injustices in my own life, in the lives of those close to me, and more broadly, in the world. Sometimes pleading for justice I can witness or an outcome that I can, with my own puny mind and puny perspective, judge "correct." Or, asking for courage or patience or hope. And sometimes just appreciatively acknowledging the beauty in how people's lives intersect and relate, or the color of light filtering through an overhead tree canopy, or the mixture of tart and sweet in a good grape, or the infectiousness of my dog's delight.

And though no one's ever told me I can -- or for that matter that I shouldn't -- I call that prayer. And I just keep doing it.

So far, it hasn't made me rich, or thin, or powerful. It hasn't saved me from pain or turmoil. It hasn't caused anyone, as near as I can tell, to bend to my will regardless of how certain I may have been that they would have been better off doing so. God hasn't smote my enemies (though I do appreciate that God let the Pistons win the NBA Championship last night), or preserved my loved ones --- or my country --- from harm. I don't get the best parking spot everywhere I go. I still overeat sometimes, and get so nervous around new people that I make an ass of myself, and occasionally deeply disappoint myself. I don't even seem to have better luck than most people I know who say they don't pray.

You might ask why I keep doing it.

I can't quite help it, really. And that's the whole of the answer. Well, and that, somehow, I enjoy it. It enriches my life in ways I don't fully understand to take a minute or two every day to say something to God. Go figure. I'm not a hundred percent sure it's really prayer, but I'm going to keep doing it.