It's Sunday, and churchgoers all around the country are home, which I imagine is disconcerting to many, even with services being live-streamed online. I, myself, haven't gone to institutionalized church in years, but I still regard Sunday as a day for prayer - not that prayer needs to be reserved for this day alone, nor just for church-goers. I still find that I can breathe easier and sink into a not-needing-to-have-it-all-figured-out place when I pray.
I recently came across a new series of Prayers of Honoring by Pixie Lighthorse, whose words have been refreshing as I continue to struggle with worry, doubt, frustration, and feeling helpless and confined. In Honoring Curiosity, she offers this prayer:
"Help me look behind the curtain and glimpse new worlds invisible to the bored, ambivalent, and indifferent. Activate my imagination so I may recognize and rescue treasure when I find it...Instill in me a determination for engagement in life--to be part of it, mixed up in it, and not a complaining spectactor. Curb my cynicism and the need to have it all figured out."
I have been trying to adopt and instill in my kids a "determination for engagement in life" during this time of disruption, which stands in stark contrast to our usually highly-scheduled days. Rather than a "to-do" list, I offered a "could-do" list in hopes of cultivating more awareness about what really moves them, fulfills them, motivates them, inspires them, and nourishes them. They are keeping a tally of activities that meet each of the categories each day, which has evolved since I first offered this list of suggestions:
While there's still more screen time than I would prefer (for me and for them), it's been interesting to witness how they are taking up the challenge. My oldest daughter has downloaded a decision-making app that spins the different categories and examples of choices within each category to help her determine how to use her time. She craves the external structure and direction, and once she gets it, she can get lost for hours in a creative or intellectual pursuit. My younger daughter made her own list of things she values within each category and has been engaging in life more on her own terms, which I think gives her a needed sense of autonomy and agency. My son requires a bit more prodding, and once he decides on or is assigned an activity, he quickly fulfills it and adds his tally mark so he can feel the sense of accomplishment - proof that he's "done something." I find it interesting to hear all of them ask, "Does it count if I...."
I think we're all being more introspective, looking at how we engage with life through a new, highly valuable lens, and wondering if what we're doing counts.
Prayer is often what reminds me that it all counts for something, and that something is the life we have and share with others. Prayer takes the everyday aspects of life and offers them up as sacred. Prayer brings me closer to the best parts of myself. Prayer helps me to witness my own troubles through a more humble lens and to more compassionately identify with the suffering of others. Prayer calls me to service. Prayer invites me to question what I'm thinking, feeling, sensing, and believing I know. Prayer invites me to pause. Prayer offers grace when I admit that I'm wrong. Prayer helps me accept what I don't need to understand. Prayer encourages me to ask for help when I exhaust myself trying to doing it all on my own. Prayer keeps me vulnerable. Prayer helps me feel safe, even when my circumstances don't change. Prayers reminds me I'm not alone. Prayer connects me to a grounding, mysterious force of love that is limited only by my own resistance.
Even if you don't normally pray, I invite you to take some time to acknowledge your honest desires, wishes, efforts, and gratitude as beacons of much-needed hope in this distressing and uncertain time. Nadia Bolz-Weber has taught me that prayers don't need to be eloquent or pious. Her invitation to prayer this morning is what moved me to write this post. I realize that not everyone is inclined to pray or even regards the existence of the Divine as valid. But I do believe that every cry for understanding, every expression of thanks in the midst of distress, every plea for help for ourselves or for others, every blessing we give is an offering of prayer. And it sure as hell counts.