Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Deepest Prayer Happens Silently In Our Nature

"It is important to acknowledge that our deepest prayer happens in our nature. Prayer is not the monopoly of the pious; neither is it to be restricted to the province of those who are religious or spiritual. Conversely, neither can we say that those who have no religion or belief are not in prayer. Neither is prayer to be equated with prayers - the sequence of holy words with which we attempt to reach God. Were the spiritual life to be reduced to what we can see and the categories we put around people, no-one could ever be deemed spiritual. Prayer is the activity of the soul. The nature of each soul is different. The eternal is related to each of us in a unique way. Frequently, our outer categories of holiness are mere descriptions of behaviour. They are not able to mirror or reflect the secret and subtle way in which the Divine is working in the individual life. The words we use to describe the holy are usually too nice and sweet. Sometimes, the divine is awkward and contrary. God might be most active in an individual who just at that time invites our disappointment, judgement or hostility. The prayer of the soul voices itself in each life differently. One of the wonderfully consoling aspects of the world of spirit is the impossibility of ever making a judgment about 'who' someone is in that world. You may know 'who' a person is in the professional or social world, but you can never judge a person's soul or attempt to decipher what their destiny is or what it means. No-one ever knows what Divine narrative God may be writing with the crooked lines of someone's struggles, misdeeds and omissions. We are all in the drama, but no-one has seen the script.
Deep below the personality and outer image, the soul is continuously at prayer. We need to find new words to help name the unusual and unexpected forms of the Divine in our lives. When we divide life into regions, we lose sight of the most interesting places where the Divine is alive in us. It is difficult to trust most spiritual or pious talk; it inevitably seems to have either a dead or a domesticated God as its reference. The Divine Presence slips through the crevices between our words and judgments. Wall-to-wall spiritual talk leaves no oxygen for a living God to breathe or for the danger of the soul to quicken. Words map the world. When we attempt to name the Divine we need words which illuminate its seamless and hidden presence. The Divine has no frontiers. Our fear and limitation invent the barriers that keep us locked out from our inheritance. That kind of banishment makes you a victim of your own loss. To the Divine Eye, creation in its diversity is one living field. Often where we consider the Divine to be absent, it is in fact present under a different form and name. Spiritual discernment is the art of critical attention that is able to recognize the Divine Presence in its expected and unexpected forms. The Divine prayer sustains all life; it never ceases, in every place and in every moment its embrace is there."
by John O'Donohue, "Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Hunger To Belong"