Instrument of Action
It is one of the busiest, if not the busiest, times of the year. Everywhere you look, something is happening. Houses are brightly decorated and well lit. Concerts are being held in schools, churches, and shopping malls. Those malls are also full of holiday shoppers trying to find the best sales and carry the most packages. Even highways are starting to see increased traffic and we still have two weeks before the heaviest traveling days of the seasons. Everywhere there is action.
In the book “Praying for Strangers”, author River Jordan states: “I can be a woman who prays for strangers but remains completely blind to their bruises.” How many people did you pass today? Now, answer me this: How many people did you really see? With all the sensory overload of the holidays we often become indifferent to the people of the holidays.
Very few of us will be able to purchase everything we would like to give to those in our lives. What we forget is that by giving of ourselves, we give them the most precious thing – our attention. Writer Kathleen Norris talks about our lives having a liturgy of their own and that each life has a sacred rhythm unique to each of us. Far too often we go through our lives with the mute button pressed down when it comes to hearing the rhythm of those we love and care about.
Too many people go through their daily living with blinders on, not really seeing the person standing next to them. We share common ground and yet act as if we are alone. Prayer allows us to connect with those around us and even when we pray for strangers, pray connects us. Prayer is living, the action of being part of the whole.
Sometimes prayer takes on a different form than the usual talking to God. It might be the offer of a ride somewhere. It might be organizing a group dinner for those with no family during the holidays. It might be buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line or even just a smile. The thing to remember is that prayer is action. You may be standing or sitting or kneeling perfectly still; yet, the prayer you are saying or thinking is action, powerful action.
Prayer saves us from being indifferent ot others. It creates a web in our lives that unites us with the rest of mankind. Often it is not about the person we are praying for or even the deity to whom we pray. Ultimately prayer benefits most the person who does the praying. True prayer opens our eyes so that we see not only the need but the pain. Pray acknowledges the want without blame or guilt. Prayer gives us a vision and love that it usually ascribed to only God.
Prayers come in many forms and we will discuss some of those very soon. Looking at a Russian icon and remembering that creating it was illegal and would have meant the artist would have been sentenced to prison or even killed makes it not only a work of art but a three-dimensional prayer. Touching a rosary helps us to connect the tactile sensation of feeling with the heart-felt act of caring. Joyous dances that are prayers of thanksgiving truly celebrate our life. Prayers can include our entire beings and talents.
At this time of the year when so many are so busy, I hope you are busy in your prayers. They are the best type of action and the most productive. Mahatma Gandhi eloquently explained: “Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”