NB: This post is from 2014 when I was offering the e-book The Practice of Prayer. Now, in 2016, I am proud to be gifting my subscribers with The Days of Discernment, a series of self-study pages. I have changed the end of the post to reflect this change.
So I was sitting on the floor and my wife-to-be was rocking in the green chair with the beautiful gooseneck arms. It was 2003.
“How do you pray?” she asked me.
She might have identified as Pagan then. Or Buddhist. Or spiritual-but-not-religious.
We had just moved in together. I was still pretty fresh from the convent, and I had identified as Pagan for years. (Complicated, yes, but there it is.)
So I was sort of Catholic, attending Quaker Meeting, and still identifying as Pagan. I had a sense of the Divine that was in every attentive breath I took: The religious shape didn’t matter so much to me, though it would be years before I really understood that. What I did know is that I longed for the Source of Life.
The Wrong Answer
Still, I didn’t understand that I had been learning about prayer my whole life. That I wasn’t birthed into the world knowing how to do it, but rather had been learning all along the way.
So I, ah, limited being that I am, I said in answer to her honest question,
“You just do it. You just pray.”
So unhelpful. So very unhelpful.
And my wife-to-be, well, she let me know—for years—how unhelpful that response was.
Working on it
So I worked on it; I worked on an answer, some kind of way to explain or suggest what it was I did to get to that Source. I realized that so much of the time, what I was doing was looking for help getting through hard times, hard decisions, hard questions.
I watched what I did and what other people I respected did.
I tried to understand what lies beneath the various practices I had learned from childhood forward.
One Love Letter
Now it is 2016, and I have written another love letter to my wife—and to you. It is called The Days of Discernment, the self-study site that comes linked in an email, just for signing up for my newsletter, Reflections.
The Days of Discernment is some soul writing I have done for you, for every seeker who comes to The Way of the River looking for some help along the way.
The Days of Discernment is about spiritual practice, yes.
But it is also about what I consider prayer, in the breadth and depth I have experienced it when I’ve been working through a problem or difficult decision.
A New Answer
The Days of Discernment is one of my answers to the question, “How do I pray?” It applies to physical labor, music, the Rosary, dishwashing, and watching a child on the jungle gym.
And most of all it applies to how to deal with the big questions of life, how prayer can help you sort through them, and ultimately find a way to the other side of seemingly insurmountable heights.
The Days of Discernment site is a lovegift, a love letter, not only to my beloved spouse, but to all of you beloved members of The Way of the River community.
I hope you like it. Please do sign up here.
With love and many blessings on you and on your house