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Responding to this

some first thoughts on prayer

We do not need any particular place or time to [pray], but only mindfulness (Pathare)


It has seemed to me for all the years I can remember that my prayer was not what it should be. I must have had the wish to know God built into me at cellular level –  or I imbibed it with my mother’s milk – and every day of my childhood was formed around the idea of ‘knowing Jesus’, which was how my parents understood and described their lives, and how they wanted me and my 3 brothers to choose to live.

But always this gap: always this gap between what I thought and what I experienced. Between what I learned, from home and church, and what it felt like on the inside.


All these years.

And then I had the privilege of doing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises (‘in daily life’) in the first months of my stay in New York. This is a day by day exploration of prayer based on the first principle that God is here, in every this that I experience, and in every now that I find myself. God is not away out there (although God is also away out there), not 'unreachable unless' I jump through hoops of mental understanding and assent or of behaviour. Not more someone else’s than mine, however saintly or wise or senior – or theologically knowledgeable. I am part of God-ness, because God is love, and that is how love works: to draw us in, draw us out, make us belong.

That is what Jesus Christ embodied and demonstrated in his life on earth, and what we have become part of because of God’s love to us.

So I began to discover a different way to be me, a different way to live my life, to experience God.


And I now plan to start an experiment of God-ness, or of this-ness: in line with the quote above, to practice ‘mindfulness’  (which I feel would be better described as ‘heartful-ness’, or ‘here-now-us-this-ness’) using what I have, which is my ordinary life and lots of ideas about how I could practice praying. Where better to start than exactly where I am?


I am sitting in a quiet and fairly empty café, which unusual facts (for a city centre lunchtime) can be easily explained: the business is also a bookstore offering mostly chinese literature, and the background music is mostly Mozart. Both suit me fine, even if I don’t plan to join the meditation group at the back.


I’ll stop writing and sit here for a few moments, aware of my surroundings, with an open heart and open eyes and ears. God is here – there is no ‘not here’ in God - so here we are together.

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