Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Posture of Prayer

This ran on but I edited it to improve the flow.

With my first name being Margaret, I appreciate the genius of Saint Margaret of Scotland’s prayer life that enabled her to glorify God while multi-tasking to manage her many children (6 sons, 2 daughters), and kingdom. However Saint Margaret never lost focus of why she was praying. For me, multi-tasking prayer began with the best of intentions. For a time, I rationalized, “God knows how busy things get,” but that put the thankfulness on God’s part for my praying. Not good. Not correct. We cannot serve two masters. The prayers made me just aware enough of my own diminishing experience of “trying” to pray. Our Fathers, rosaries had become part of the things to do, that got sandwiched into the process of getting through the day. The multi-tasking hurt me in other ways too.

Everywhere I felt distracted. Everywhere, I felt I wasn’t giving the time and attention necessary; and the days got harder and harder and harder. Cooking the meals; doing the dishes and even reading the stories, there was something of me holding back, being unwilling to give or be present because as I rationalized, I was doing so much. It was true in all things, everywhere, I was restless; everywhere I was somewhere else. For a time, I told myself I was being too critical and to relax and ignore it. After all, I was still praying. I was still doing. But the prayers done on the fly while still a gift, were not done mindfully; and the tasks done on the fly, while still acts of service, were not done mindfully. I was cheating myself of the full presence of God and others by being distracted.

Our parish priest suggested kneeling or going off into a room and light a candle to bring about a more prayerful mindset. I knew already that this was the correct advise because my brain came up with a thousand reasons not to do as he said. I could hear with all those excuses of what I could be doing if I just prayed as I worked but the words “Martha, you are anxious about many things.” popped in my head as a response. And I was. “How could I subdivide my time even more?” I wondered. The answer was, I wasn’t supposed to subdivide at all.
“Could I not stay?” I could hear. It wasn’t harsh in my head, it was more like a request, an invitation. Could I go on a date with God daily or not? If I would learn to be fully present to those I loved, shouldn’t I begin by being fully present to the One who is love? This was the spiritual food for which I had been starving but unable or rather unwilling, to seek.
The first stint lasted only seven and a half minutes; but tomorrow, I’m setting the timer for ten.

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