One night in the hospital, while recovering from my surgery, I found myself unable to remember the prayers I had known since childhood. I would start one prayer, get somewhere in the middle of the prayer, and my mind would then jump to a different section of the prayer, or to a completely different prayer, combining them. In my soul, I knew that God was thrilled I was checking in, but my foggy post-surgery amnesiac brain left me frustrated at my inability to string complete sentences together, much less pray rote prayers.
When Erin visitted me the next day, I asked her to pray those same prayers with me again. The ones she and I had grown up with in our families and as part of St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia. Without skipping a beat we prayed together The Lord’s Prayer, The Hail Mary and The Glory Be – all prayers Erin and I, and, not to mention, a billion other Catholics worldwide could pray at a moment’s notice. Man, did it feel good to be able to participate in and complete those simple age old prayers – prayers my parents and grandparents and great grandparents also prayed. Prayers as old as time.
Ya’ know how sometimes you just need to eat mashed potatoes because you need comfort food. Well, the same is true with prayer. Sometimes my spirit just needs rote prayer. I still prefer conversation with God and frankly, I suck at meditation. But that’s okay because every day, throughout the day, rote prayer rides alongside me as I navigate what life brings me. Before bed each night, I always pray those all-too familiar three prayers – The Lord’s Prayer, The Hail Mary, The Glory Be to quiet my brain always remembering to thank God for each day He brings me. Then, I ask that if God chooses to give me another day I will promise to do better with it than the day I am finishing. I conclude by listing five things for which I am grateful. I rarely make it to all five things for which I am grateful because in the midst of that nightly ritual, somehow God mercifully quiets me to such a point that I find I have fallen deep into sleep. The only thing that awakens me from this quiet slumber is the need to go to the bathroom 6 damn times a night. And believe me folks, when that happens, I am praying my way back between the sheets that God will mercifully knock me out again! Sleep is so restorative. As is prayer.
So, I ask each of you: how do you find prayer accompanying you throughout your day?
Peace friends, chuck.
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog