Might not prayer then be our most accessible means to inner reconciliation; a natural healing function in response to the pain of the divided self and the divided world? Might not prayerfulness be part of our survival instinct belonging more to the wilderness than to the church?
One of my favorite books is Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott. In it, she describes prayer this way,
Let’s just say prayer is communication from our hearts to the great mystery, or Goodness, or Howard; to the animating energy of love we are sometimes bold enough to believe in; to something unimaginably big, and not us… Prayer can be motion and stillness and energy — all at the same time. It begins with stopping in our tracks, or with our backs against the wall, or when we are going under the waves, or when we are just so sick and tired of being psychically sick and tired that we surrender, or at least we finally stop running away and at long last walk or lurch or crawl toward something. Or maybe, miraculously, we just release our grip slightly.
Which leads me directly to Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, in which she says,
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings live with ease.
Including you, kind and gentle reader.
So be it. Yes. Amen.