Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Good" and "Bad" prayers

So, I have been wandering a bit, learning here and there what others say in their blogs about spirituality and creativity. There are many more of those than I have had time to read. And they come from all angles. But those that are written by individuals who have come from a Chrisitian framework, seem more frequently to start from some of the assumptions that I feel called to lay aside: that there are good and bad prayers, which of course implies that there is a right way and a a wrong way to pray--which of course moves prayers to a level similar to a speech if it is done with others present or a business letter, if it is written down.

I remember thinking somewhere in my young adult years, that it seemed the way we talked about God and prayer made it sound as if he/she was a cosmic vending machine. All you had to do was say the right things, do the right things, i.e. insert the coins.   That action, of course, would result in the preferred blessings to pop out, like Divinely inspired twinkies.  No appearance of the twinkies would clearly mean that the appropriate coinage had not been inserted. After all, this is God who, unlike vending machines, never malfunctions! 

So, if we didn't get what we ordered, it must be because we were not following the instructions correctly, right?  

Or maybe, we could approach it in a different way.

Perhaps I am not linear enough but, what about relationship? You know--you learn about each other, talk a little, listen a little, share the hard stuff--that kind of relationship? Are our conversations with a lover/significant other based on what that person will do for us if we say what we want in just the right way? Are they based on how much better than us that person is or how many times we tell them how fabulous they are or that they are ever so worthy of our praise, while we are no better than the dust of the earth? Well, come to think of it, maybe some of them are. But, if that is true, they are not so healthy.

And wouldn't such a relationship include things like being playful, sparking each other's imagination, making each other laugh? Wouldn't it involve being inspired by the twinkle in each other's eyes, or words, or voices and knowing oneself better because of knowing the other? Why are we so afraid to let God be God and realize that God really wants us to be us?

I have grabbed with great gusto the concept of "praying outside the lines" because I believe the lines we set for prayer, the dos and the don'ts, are  usually more about our own self images than God's requirements for relationship.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Life Puzzle

What if you made a puzzle out of your life? What would it look like?

1. Start first by thinking of the different parts of your life or roles that you play: work; school; home, etc.; or daughter; friend; student; leader--whatever works for you and helps you to reflect on who you are and how you spend your life. In which of the parts do you spend the most time? Size the parts by the amount of time you spend in them.
2. As you start to get a sense for what is there, you might want to choose colors for them based on how you feel about them. Which piece is your favorite? Which gives the most authentic snapshot of you? How much a percentage of your life is spent in that part? In which part are you most aware of God or the Divine?
3. How do the pieces fit together? Are there gaps between the pieces? For instance, is there a huge difference between the way your family sees you and the way your friends see you? Is there a gap between who you are at within a faith community and who you are in your work place? Do some of the pieces move and change while others stay the same?
4. Who are the important people in each of the parts? Do you ever introduce them to one another? If you did--would they get along? Would they at least respect each other?

There is obviously more that any of us can do with this. But taking a bit of time, just to pay attention is the most important part. It begins to make some things clearer. Am I grumpy a lot? Maybe it's because I'm spending 10% of the time being myself and doing what I love and 90% doing what I feel like I have to do. Maybe its because the few people in my life who know and accept me, my gifts, my nature are not accepted by the people with whom I spend most of my days.

Authenticity is sacred. It is the place we can begin to find life and share it. So, if you find your own authenticity in a small percentage of your life....well what does that say? Instead of dancing with lines, maybe we can dance with our authentic selves. In this dance, the steps don't have to have some kind of perfect form--they only need to be ours, really ours.