Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Direction - New Ears?

Recently, I've had a bit of struggle with my prayer life, complaining or perhaps confessing to my "resident" priest, as well as to my Renovare spiritual pals that something feels different, dry, unrewarding.  It just hasn't felt right for a few weeks - the usual morning time, usual chair, usual devotional tools - not bringing up any connection with God - as though God is on vacation, having forgotten to send me a temporary address for correspondence!

I suspect, of course, that I'm the one missing the point during my sparse meditations;  I the one, who has a list of requests, a list of thanksgivings, some awareness of what a text is wanting me to know and I, the one, who has little time to listen.  A conclusion about my being the absent one and the one not listening has been brought home to me on several occasions since I began questioning my spiritual desert.

First, quite unexpectedly - spur of the moment sort of thing - I decided to drop in on an a.m. session of a Stewardship Day at my local parish - it was tailored for Vestry members and parish priests of our Episcopal Diocese and I don't fit into either of those categories.  My spouse was a participating speaker/priest in the a.m. and I'd not planned to attend his session as I was already familiar with his text and powerpoint........yet, decided to drop by anyway.  Turns out that I just happened to be there for the Priest presenter who spoke of stewardship in terms of prayer life - prayer life being the active words that caught my attention.  She espoused that prayer is a two way conversation - with an emphasis on two-way and on the listening aspects of prayer life.  I won't go through the specific notes that I took that a.m. but I did feel I had been called to hear her words regarding prayer - that they had been prepared specifically for my ears to hear.

Next, in a casual Renovare group discussion over a light summer meal (we don't meet weekly in the summer months), my friends upon hearing of my sudden dry place of prayer, suggested that perhaps God was leading me to a new place in my prayer life, or a new place in my life in general and that patience, not words might be a more comfortable demeanor for me to maintain for a while until I was ready to receive more specific direction.  I found those words comforting and logical thought for where I might be in what I considered my desert right now.   As our time together ended that evening, we set the next date for our regular meetings to resume and checked out the next chapter from our continuing study of Richard Foster's Devotional Classics.  The chapter to be studied that day is entitled:  Evelyn Underhill: What Do We Mean by Prayer?  It probably goes without saying that I was assigned to lead our reading discussion for that September 7 meeting!
This past weekend I attended a Women's Weekend at an Episcopal church camp set on a beautiful lake shore site, surrounded by tall gently moving trees and glorious not too hot/not too cold August temperatures.  My sister and I were teamed together to present two sessions of Soul Collage for those  campers who felt inclined to participate in such activity.  Along with facilitating, I put together several small collages of my own and as we were all gathered together again and asked to report on how and what our collage cards had to say - do you need to guess - my cards spoke emphatically to me of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  Listening yet?  I was beginning to really listen.

Prior to Sunday a.m.'s Eucharist service, I took time to walk the camp labyrinth - a meaningful, thought filled, prayerful walk to center myself on the moment and upon the upcoming worship.
Lastly, with a full measure of emotional prayerfulness for the weekend of rest and recreation, I entered as fully as possible into the Eucharist service - it was beautiful!  As I prepared to leave the room, reaching for various prayerbooks, songbooks, and the random reading that had been left in the randomly-selected chair in which I sat for the service, I read with interest the following:  "The parting with what was can feel like a bittersweet pause at a crossroads, an urgent summons into alien territory, or even the ultimate surrender of crucifixion.  You are being separated from that which is no longer needed."  Wow, interesting huh?

Indeed my prayer life may be changing, right along with the changes in me as a woman, spouse, writer, artist, and maturing Christian in a sometimes confusing and complicated world but the changes are not losses, rather than the changes are gains and are ways that my human life and my prayer life in their ever-changing forms, transformations so to speak, are natural and O.K.  I'm not sure what human or spiritual form my prayers will present themselves as in the near future, but I am relatively certain that having been called to listen, that my new ears will find a way to listen themselves out of the prayer desert that I've been baking in this summer.

And you, does all of this listening rhetoric sound foreign to you?  Do you occasionally feel called to a new way of praying, to listening, to living your spiritual life, as well as your physical life, with intention?  For your sake, I hope so - change is not always a particularly comfortable place to wake up in but it is refreshing to find that I can still listen, still question, and that there will be an answer even if it's not immediately clear what that answer or direction is.


  1. Anonymous11:43 AM

    I feel like you spoke straight to me in this blog, Dianna! I had not come to a dry place in prayer, but noticed in my prayer request journal I had plenty of prayer requests, but wasn't journaling the answers to some of these prayers. So a new start for me. I also have been waking way too early, but 'for some reason' can't go back to sleep, so I'm moving my devotion time to my early am risings. I went through my old Good News Bible and found some really great treasures, but, of course, no dates or why I had taken these particular notes or marked this particular passage. I was rewarding nonetheless.

    So glad to have you back...JQ

  2. Hey Jadean -
    So glad to hear from you and to know this post was a meaningful one for you! Tx as always for reading and commenting.


  3. Gretchen5:44 PM

    hey, good to read your post. I heard great things about womens weekend.


  4. Gretchen,

    Thanks for reading. I think it was a good weekend. It felt a little strange to only have one Rehberg in attendance this year:) I specifically came to St. P's Stewardship conference to hear you and you spoke DIRECTLY to me regarding the issue of prayer "conversation" - thank you!


  5. welcome back with this lovely post. the words that stuck out to me were "prayer LIFE". for some time now i feel like my prayer has been moving outward and encompassing more than my traditional morning quiet time. this post is a great reminder to me that prayer is about LIFE and listening - to myself, to God, to others, to everything. it might come in the form of a "random" few words on the back of a piece of paper, an image, a walk in the morning light - this list goes on... let us listen to the silent spaces. xoxoxo

  6. Lucy -

    It feels good to be back "penning" thoughts into posts:)

    "Let us listen to the silent spaces." Amen, amen!