About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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« The things that make you come alive | Main | The fear of feeling what we feel »
Sunday
Nov252012

What is prayer?

 

"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?

 

I will be honest.

I've never much enjoyed prayer.

I've never liked the idea of a quiet time as I understood it: twenty minutes each morning, with a journal and a special devotional.

I've been prayed over, by people who didn't know me declaring emphatic acts over my life; people who often had bad breath.

I've had people lay their hands upon my forehead, and try to push me backwards to the ground, while someone waited behind them with arms oustretched to catch me; me, in freefall proof that prayer works.

I've been told that as more proof of my devotion and baptism into the Spirit, I would pray in tongues; which, by listening to the voices around me, sounded like a universal tongue, rather than a "private prayer language."

I've been encouraged to pray the Our Father every day. On my knees beside my bed.

I've been taught to pray the Fruits of the Spirit and the Armor of God over my life each morning.

I've been told to ask in faith for what I need, but that if I doubt, I probably won't get it. No pressure.

I've felt like a huge prayer failure for falling asleep mid-sentence, or not knowing what to say, or doubting even while I said out loud, "I know you can heal him/her from this/that."

I've listened to myself babble on and on, wondering even as I did so why I thought I actually knew what I needed, and could somehow articulate it to an all-knowing God?


Mary Oliver defines prayer as simply being present.

Well.

That seems to have much less to do with what I am saying, and a whole lot more to do with what I am doing.

Using these definitions, I can say that I've actually lived a life full of meditative practices, I just didn't consider them as such. I've spent most of my life singing and dancing and acting...which may sound noisy or performance-oriented, but which I found to be so grounding, so healing, so full of life-giving discovery and connection with who I am created to be.

 

Only, once I started having kids, I stopped doing all of those things; I think this was mostly a necessary acknowledgement of the season- birthing and raising young kids is all-consuming, and I (who tend to lose myself in what I love) could not balance pursuing the arts with loving my family well.

 

There was one semester, when Malachi was almost three and Gabriel was a year and a half, when I took two dance classes: modern and adult ballet...

(that's me on the left at my recital...which happened to be on the stage of my old high school)

 and where I started writing/directing for stage again (at my church)...

  

 

(me as Nancy Fancypants, a game show host)

and that semester ended in the affair.

There were many reasons why our marriage suffered such a breach of trust, but unfortunately, I linked pursuing the arts with jeopardizing my family. 

 

I really don't know how to balance these two loves, but I am learning. Because I have to. I have to find outlets for contemplative disciplines, for something that re-integrates my mind with my body, soul, and spirit.

 

I know I am a one-note Johnny when it comes to this subject, but I really believe that becoming the most YOU-ish YOU is the greatest gift you can give to the people you love, and to the world at large.  

 

I will say it again,

Man fully alive is the glory of God.

 -(st. Irenaeus)

 

I have never felt so present, so fully alive, so prayerful if you will, as I did when acting, or directing, or singing on a worship team at church. (or, come to think of it, when birthing my babies).

 

I think this is a good way to figure out what we are created to do: ask yourself, when do you feel most alive, most present, most inhabiting your own skin?

 

Realistically, my season still does not leave much room for acting or directing, or even singing on a worship team, but instead of finding other means of pursuing a contemplative discipline, I just pushed the HOLD button.

And slowly, because this is the way of all life unless we deliberately pursue otherwise, I became a stranger to my own heart, and to God's heart.

 

I think it is so easy for women to lose themselves in loving and in nurturing; I believe we become mommies-not just defined by bearing and birthing children-when the outpouring of our energy goes into nurturing other lives, and when this happens, it is so very easy to lose contact with our own selves.

 

We become the facilitator for other beings, and we forget how to be our own facilitator as well, how to ask for what we need, how to stay present with our own hearts, how to relate to our bodies not just for what they can produce for other people, but for what they carry inside-our hopes and dreams, our desires.

 

Suffering, specifically working through the breach of trust in my marriage, knocked me back into the present.

I could feel my heart again. I knew what I needed, and what I wanted. It jolted me back in touch with my spirit; indeed, I'd never felt such a confidence in my own intuition, such a clear-headedness.

 

That year, July 2009 till March 2010, was a re-awakening. I quit Facebook, I quit all my pursuits, I got quiet, I started reading again, I received much counseling, I participated in healing prayer.

 

I was learning how to kneel down in the grass again.

 

Like an electric shock, I realized this WAS my one wild and precious life; it was happening all around me, and I wanted to be present in it.

 

Kyrie's birth, in March 2010, unlocked my writing; since then, this has been my primary contemplative discipline, wherein I allow who I really am to rise to the surface; while I'm doing it, it's a heady practice, but it re-integrates me because the daily practice of being aware of life, both as participator and observer/chronicler, helps me to be present and fully alive.

 

Every time I write, every time I feel the liberation that comes from being vulnerable and weak in a public forum, my resolve strengthens to do whatever it takes (even if it means doing nothing) to peel off the layers of false self.

 

So I guess this is another piece of advice I would offer: Don't push the hold button on yourself.

Find the thing that helps you get to know your heart again. Find the thing that helps you kneel in the grass.

 

Love,

Trinity

Reader Comments (3)

One of my favorite quotes comes from Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

We're kindred sprits, Trinity! This past year, my "word" for 2012 that's been written on my journal has been "Reawake." It's been a lot of dry bones and ugly ashes...but in those moments of contemplation, God's really breathed new life in areas I thought I had died. Ezekiel 37 has been speaking a lot to me. Erwin McManus does an amazing sermon called "Hope in a Desperate Time" on that passage. You can find it on ITunes under his podcasts called "Mosaic". Definitely worth checking out!

November 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShea Hawkins

You are so wonderful. Thank you for sending me resources of LIFE. I would love to get together with you someday and journal our hearts out. I am with you about the season of dry bones and ugly ashes. the smell of burning. and the breath of life.

November 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterTrinity Wilbourn

I'd love that too! Really, I think it's only a matter of time before we actually meet in person! (P.S. SYTYCD is by far my favorite show ever.) All of the choreographers you listed are my personal favorites! Travis Walls, another choreographer is on the top of my list-- check out his youtube dance with Robert & Allison "Fix You." Get's me every.single.time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TsR1yiAe9g

November 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShea Hawkins

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