I Learned How To Pray TodayI thought I knew how to pray.
When I got the call this week that she had not overslept, that she was not getting ready for high school as we had thought, that she was not home--had not slept in her bed, was missing once again, I fell to my knees, the tears streaming, the millions of desperate scenarios running through my head--all of them horrific...
I begged someone, somewhere to let her be safe, to bring her home to me, to not let this be the time that she had gotten into the wrong car...
I guess you could call that praying, but it was more like the incoherent wailing of a distraught mother of an emotionally troubled teen.
When the fact truly hit home that someone I love very much had walked away from me, again, leaving me desperate and inconsolable, begging to some unknown god for answers that will never be forthcoming, the tissue pile growing with the level of my anxiety and pain, I started handling my collection of things that he had touched, bestowed, things that we had cherished in an attempt to feel something other than searing agony.
It felt like prayer, but it was really the same plea I would imagine a prisoner uses when he looks beseechingly at his torturer saying...please...make... it...stop.
When I found myself clutching the many religious medals and rosaries and prayer cards that my new-found and very devout friends had passed along to me, even though I do not share their faith, I thought that could definitely be considered prayer--old-time, rote, beggings and novenas, and always the plea for peace in my heart and in the hearts of my loved ones. Surely that must be prayer, by definition, right?
Prayer is not supposed to leave you feeling like all of your internal organs have begun to coil in on themselves, churning and grinding, nerve endings snapping, synapses shorting out, a feeling of hopelessness and fatalism all-consuming. No. That cannot be right. I must be doing something very wrong.
This is what I have learned: Real prayer is giving up, throwing in the towel, walking away, laughing at the futility of it all, recognizing that impermanence--that the breath you are struggling to take could very well be your last, and none of it matters, that is--that there is not a damn thing you can do about any of it.
I learned how to pray today.
I realized that "offering it up" as my grandmother used to tell me, is the only way to survive life. If I continue to insist that I can control what others do, either by directly intervening or by pleading for assistance, I am lost.
I learned how to pray today. It has not been an easy lesson, but I learned how to give up and not be so afraid. Who knew doing nothing was the way to go? Not me. I think I can do anything. Guess what? I can't.
I believe in love. My new prayer? "Love, help me let go, and let love."
It is a good prayer. I think I may finally be getting the hang of this.