What is prayer?
Different people would answer this question in different ways and no one way is ‘right.’
Life is prayer, seeing, touching, sensing… silence… speaking… our souls resonating with the rhythm of creation.
Prayer takes many forms.
Weekly thought for 16 September 2020
In a burst of enthusiasm early on in lockdown, I decided to clean and tidy my kitchen cupboards. This particular one contains casserole dishes, useful but not everyday things, trifle bowls (does anyone still eat trifle?) and fancy serving platters. Pulling out a stack from the very back of the top shelf, I dislodged a jug I hadn’t previously spotted, and it fell heavily onto the lower shelf. The stoneware jug was fine; it picked itself up, dusted itself off and went on its way, so to speak. The casualties were the more delicate items on the shelf below, all of which had belonged to my mother and grandmother. There was an unusual rectangular serving plate, a bowl edged with pictures of fruit, and others. I sadly retrieved all the broken pieces, and they’ve been on my sideboard since, silently reproaching me for my clumsiness.
It’s not as though they’re museum pieces to be preserved at all costs, they’re just sentimental. If I glue them back together I won’t trust them to serve food any more, they’ll just exist to invoke memories of my mother and grandmother, whose things they were. They were the plates that would come out only at tea-time on Sunday, or for parties, or if we had visitors to stay. They signify family and hospitality, strong things that have influenced how I live my life. So I’m torn between mending and discarding.
Some years ago I read a book by a Japanese author, Marie Kondo, called “The life changing magic of tidying”. It’s safe to say that I have not yet applied her rigorous methods to our house. Some of the book’s contents are a little odd, but a couple of intriguing ideas have stayed with me:
- In order to achieve a happy state, where the things you have are the things you really treasure (says the author), first you should take each item in your hands and ask yourself “Does this thing spark joy?” If the answer is yes, keep it.
The other idea, when considering something you can’t throw away, is to consider its true purpose in your life. Has it perhaps already fulfilled it’s role?
So there’s one approach to apply to the quandary of my broken plates. Or to relationships, or institutions, or thoughts, or fashion. If they’re broken, no longer fit, or have outlived their purpose, has the time come to let them go? Not abandoned before they have been acknowledged; we have to hold each thing purposefully in our hands – or heart – and say thank you. Thank you – you gave me joy at that time. Thank you – for teaching me what doesn’t suit me. Thank you – for showing me what’s important. And send them on their way, with gratitude.
- “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6: 19-21
Holy Spirit, show us the treasures that last,
Those that do not rust or degrade,
Those that cannot be stolen,
That we may store them in our hearts
And keep us close to heaven.