Some doors open slowly !!
( See previous posts for Parts 1, 2 and 3 on Prayer and Doors)
Most of the guidance for people who want to go through the doors to prayer mention the key step " Be attentive. "
Paying attention would seem to be a easy task but reality contradicts this presumption. If anything, listening becomes ever more challenging because of the clamour and burdens of our hurried days.
The lack of true attentiveness is a cultural problem.
Numerous scriptural passages encourage us to listen:
God said to Job, " Listen to me; be silent and I will teach you wisdom."
In the Book of Proverbs, Holy Wisdom urges "And now my children, listen to me."
The cultivation of the skill of listening for God is embedded in many different types of spiritual practices and we need to regularly adjust our listening antennae to hear God through the scriptures, the liturgical life of the church, people, events, and nature.
Nothing, no person, place or moment is left out from divine revelation - our spiritual development depends on being alive and vigilant enought to hear the myriad of possible messages of transformation that weave through our daily existence.
The late Cardinal Basil Hume of England suggested this :
"Each of us needs an opportunity to be alone, and silent, to find space in the day or week just to reflect and to listen to the Word of God that speaks deep within us. Our search for God is inly our response to God's search for us. God is at the door but for many people their lives are too preoccupied for them to be able to hear."
Anthony de Mello had some wonderful nuggest of wisdom on the subject of prayer and prayers :.............
Grandmother : do you say your prayers every night ?"
Grandson : "Oh, Yes !"
"And every morning?"
"No.I'm not scared in the daytime."
Even if we have the intentional desire to listen it will be an important step.
Again, Anthony de Mello has some help for us here ......
" A cobbler came to Rabbi Isaac of Ger and said "Tell me what to do about my morning prayer. My customers are poor men who only have one pair of shoes. I pick up their shoes in the late evening and work on them most of the night: at dawn i still have work to be doen if the men are to have their shoes before they go to work.
Now my question is ; What shouild I do about my morning prayer ?"
"What have you been doing till now?" the Rabbi asked.
"Sometimes I rush through the prayer quickly and get back to work - but then I feel bad about it.
At other times, I let the hour of prayer go by.
Then too, I feel a sense of loss and every now and then, as I raise my hammer from the shoes, I can almost hear my heart sigh.
What an unlucky man I am, that I am not able to make my morning prayer.
Said the Rabbi, " If I were God I would value that sigh more than the prayer ."
Painting above untitled 1943 by Leo Lowit
Painting above untitled 1943 by Leo Lowit
You know my heart through and through.
Your gaze penetrates to the core of who I am,
where the truest and deepest desire dwells.
When I knock on the door with my requests
grant what will most influence my love for you.
May I ever seek that which you long for me to be.
I open the door of my heart to you.
I open the door.
Even if we do manage to stop and listen what happens when everything we do seems fruitless, when we feel estranged and God still seems remote ?
What happens when all our pleas and murky questions about horrific violence inflicted by humanity and other unsettling issues go unresolved and we are perplexed or bewildered and nothing makes sense ?
Never give up !!
Something inside me
Constantly bleeds towards God
That's why I keep writing,
Slipping messages under the door
and remember God has a sense of humour !!.................
More gems from Anthony de Mello
A woman who had given up on praying decided to open the Bible at random for a phrase that would enlighten her. The first one she came cross said , " and Judas went out and hanged himself. "
Not surprisingly, she was a little disconcerted by this so decided to try another.
only to find that the second one was
" And I say to you, go and do likewise ! "
An atheist fell of a cliff but as he tumbled he caught hold of a branch of a small tree. There he hung between heaven above and the rocks a thousand feet below, knowing he wasn't going to be able to hold on much longer.
Then an idea came to him. "God !", he shouted with all his might.
Silence !! No one responded.
" God!" he shouted again. " If you exist, save me and I promise I shall believe in you and teach others to believe."
Silence again ! Then he almost let go of the branch in shock as he heard a mighty voice booming across the canyon,
" That's what they all say when they are in trouble."