Let Us Play

“As prayer becomes more intimate, grace reaches down into the depths
of our psyche, empowering it to unload the emotional damage and
debris of a lifetime. In time we will make the transition from going
to God through reason and particular acts of the will to going to him
more directly through the intuitive faculties. Then God will relate I am always
to us through them instead of through the external senses, memory,
imagination, reasoning, and acts of the will.”

– Thomas Keating [20th C.], “Invitation to Love” –

I am always looking for ways to make prayer more intimate, more intuitive, more natural.

On some of the newer playscapes in the greater Suburban area of Clear Lake there is a feature which is like the modern version of the “tin can with string” telephones we made as kids. There’s a megaphone looking thing somewhere on the playground that is connected by a pipe to another megaphone looking thing elsewhere on the playground. I have never seen a kid enjoy that particular feature beyond the two minutes it takes for her to discover, “Wow, sound travels thorough pipes!”

It gets old quickly. Why? Because kids who want to talk to each other don’t want a distorting, awkward, unnatural conduit mediating their conversation. They can just walk a few yards and talk face to face.

You know, I feel the same way about almost all types of verbal prayer. Language is for me is a distorting, awkward, unnatural conduit mediating between me and God, in my experience. I need something closer, more “face to face.”

Lately I have been using art as prayer, focusing my hands, eyes, and head on a creative task. Inducing flow states, forcing myself to stop, take care, and pay attention. God created each of us with a preferred mode of learning, a unique set of gifts, and, I believe, an optimal way to communicate with Her. And now prayer is not an awkward chore. I enjoy it. I imagine God delights in the fact that I look forward to being with Him. I just need to get rid of the nagging voice that says, “That’s not real prayer. You’re just playing.”

Playing, praying. Whatever.

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