Monday, July 30, 2012

My New Way to Pray

Catholic nuns and priests taught us to pray with our hands folded into little tents with our thumbs crossed.  We were supposed to kneel and bow our heads down when we prayed, were given holy cards with holy pictures and prayers to read if we didn't ourselves know what to pray on our own.  Our prayers were to include morning prayers, prayers before and after meals, and evening prayers.  Forgetting, or just plain not saying them, constituted a venial sin and had to be confessed to the priest in the confessional.  My Mom told me, though, that if I fell asleep before I finished saying my prayers, the angels would finish them for me.

Memorization was key to Catholic prayer.  The rosary is the most beautiful and meaningful prayer to the Blessed Mother. Another critical prayer is the Act of Contrition, because if we pray it right before we guarantees we'll go to Heaven even if un-confessed sins stain our soul.  

In 1983, I suffered an episode that pretty much wiped out my short-term memory.  A nurse sat by my hospital bed all night, and despite my confusion, I was able to pray the Act of Contrition.  I wasn't able to remember what clothes I wore that day, but the words to the Act of Contrition were crystal clear to me.

Life has taught me a new way to pray.  It doesn't require me to be on my knees, have a scheduled time, or any sort of memorized rituals.  Now I pray as I go.  If I see something beautiful, if someone does something thoughtful for me, or at any prayer-moment, I pray on the spot.  It's refreshing to say, "Thank you for letting me see this gorgeous yellow rose," or "thank you for the rain you're blessing our earth with right now," or "thank you for these dear friends or family who are bringing joy to my day."

Being appreciative and thankful should be a priority for us here in America.  Naturally, there are daily occurrences, traumas, tragedies, and frustrations, but, all in all, we are blessed with so much.  I'm finding myself thanking for the miniature fleeting moments.  Prayer is now as much of a joy for me to offer as hopefully it is for My Creator to receive.

Already this morning I'm giving thanks for another beautiful day, my coffee, my two house mates, and, yes, even the squirrel that broke my frog yesterday.  One thing I've learned since my new way of prayer, is that I'm overlooking things that otherwise would have bugged me.  Now, I'm more focused on what's going right instead of what's going wrong.


 Ole and Lena Must Have Forgotten
One of Their Chairs