Every morning since October 6, 2012, I’ve been texting prayers to my cousin as she works her way through a really tough time. It hadn’t been a conscious decision to do this. It just sort of happened and the weird part about it is that it happened at a distressing point in my own spiritual life; a time when I was praying daily into an abyss. Unmoored and questioning the nature of faith itself – prayer was a conundrum for me.
Yet I continued the daily ritual and added to my cousin via text. And in the process I began to experience healing grace. For as I assured my cousin of God’s presence, God began to resurrect for me in an unfamiliar yet unmistakably God-like way. And given what I know—and more importantly what I know I don’t know—this part of my spiritual journey has become a curiosity to be observed rather than analyzed (since I can’t quite figure it out anyway), a gift to be savored.
Perhaps at some point when I’m ready to move on from observation and choose to analyze again, I will answer the questions that trouble me. But not yet. When I’m ready the question will still be here:
- What is prayer . . . pure energy? Communication or communion with God? Sheer mystery? An action? A thought? A thought turned into reality via energy? Personal delusion? Communal hysteria?
- What does prayer do . . . change our circumstances? Change our perception? Change us? Change the world? Bestow miracles? Engender grace?
- What or who is God . . . Enlivening spirit? Creator of the universe? Dispenser of wishes like a great Santa-in-the-sky? Hands-off First Cause? Personal friend who hears my ranting? Pure Energy? The Center that is in all and is All?
I am no theologian. I enter into these questions as a person who from childhood was anchored by experiential faith that guided my life (yet I found no comfort in its silence in my darkest hour); a church goer who spent a lifetime of Sundays at Mass who now feels alienated and estranged from her church; a person who still cherishes the deep mystery of rituals and what they offer who senses no earthly community in which to share them.
But the ancient rituals of prayer remain and – other than love – have become my only spiritual mooring. And in familial love, I had the desire to reach out to my cousin to shine a hint of light into her darkness. Given the 1,000 miles that separate us, I decided texting was my way. So I text her prayers of love, trust, faith, and hope and one day I noticed that the light in those prayers reflected back into my darkness as well. I was texting her memories, ideas, and hopes that blossomed into my own reality.
The gift I offered her was returned to me and assures me of some sort of Divinity; one that I still call God even though I can’t define exactly what that means. The scriptures of my childhood tell me to knock and the door will be opened. My morning texts remind me that the door opens every day.