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  • Writer's pictureRyder Lyne

2021-10-20 where do you go to pray

Where do you go to pray?

October 20, 2021

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. 

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

Mary Oliver ~ Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Ordinarily, I don’t go to the woods alone. I prefer to go with my friends who are smilers and talkers. Although I welcome the restorative qualities of nature, an environment populated by animals alarms me. I live in the city where the only snakes I encounter are human.

Writing and music are my woods, where I go to pray. Accompanying singers and making music with others is fun and stimulating, but sitting at the piano or playing my flute alone, I transcend to a space where smiling and talking are noisy interruptions. Writing settles my mind, centering me on the present.

Karen Armstrong confesses, I have discovered that the religious quest is not about discovering “the truth” or “the meaning of life” but about living as intensely as possible here and now. 

Where do you go to pray? Just as the body needs sleep, the soul needs prayer. Not the heart-wrenching cries to a “Santa in the sky” god, but moments to connect with all living things so that we can live intensely. I call that connection God although it doesn’t need a label. It’s awareness and appreciation of the miracle and fragility of life on this planet resulting in valuing all life.

If you don’t have a place to pray, I urge you to find one. The world cries out for healthy souls.   

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