Nay_ho_tze's Medicine Musings

reaching beyond the illusion

As a former religion teacher to middle school kids, 

i wrangled more than my share of  the let's-stump-the-teacher student -

 i have fond memories of  one,

a street-smart Louisiana Black kid who went by "Ant" -

i earned his respect, but his testing me never ended 

and through his questions he became my teacher

One day he asked me, “How often should we pray?”

i am sure he hoped there was some formula or a spiritual recipe for salvation ….

pray this many times a day, and you’re good to go!

My immediate response was much more stark:  “Your life should be your prayer.” 1

The idea of prayer is not only about communication  

but also about communion  with one’s Creator –

while communication infers ‘speaking’ 

communion refers to the ‘back and forth’ exchange that happens in the listening ...

and that’s the part folks often forget, that the other half of praying is listening

I didn’t realize until I got much older that not all folks 

spend their days listening, and giving thanks -

yet still i don't pray enough (imo), neither am i always 'listening' mindfully,

the goal being to steep in a prayerful frame of mind all the time,

which is what Jesuit children learn as the purpose of life:

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (AMDR); For the Greater Glory of God

and while I may idealize the ritual of morning prayer, 

that reality is impossible for night owls like me…

by the time I wake up, I hit the floor running, and prayer is an afterthought,

so i take it with me and do it on the run -

then i got lazy and decided to just steep in prayer all the time

that way you don't have to remember or forget to pray ...

it's the only way i know: to make my life my prayer

Besides isn’t it just as  prayerful to sit overlooking a pasture,

sipping morning coffee,

checking in spiritually with animal neighbours who visit?

To know full well that the present moment is only by Spirit's doing anyway

for truth be told,  if the present moment is indeed all that there is,

then there is no other choice:   “Your life should be your prayer.”

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1  unbeknownst to me fencing Ant's query, the Lakota have long spoken the very same answer that i gave him -
to quote their great teacher Black Elk: "Every step you take should be a prayer,
and if every step you take is a prayer, then you will always walk 
in a sacred manner." 
But i hadn't yet even discovered Black Elk, a fellow catechist, who would become a lifelong teacher,
guiding my assimilation of  irish catholicism with my american indian heritage (regardless of the rio grande's location) - 
Black Elk and i were introduced in a bookstore in Clackamas OR when a book fell off a shelf i was passing by -

It was from Black from whom i learned how to see the seemingly at-odds connections junctioned in my heart
between my Catholic teachers' esotericism and american indian beliefs --
it was Black Elk who showed me that the two were indeed separated but, look! joined by a bridge, 
of which he stood on one side and i on the other,
where we each saw the same thing, from opposite viewpoints that included each other,
that perspective is everything to be sure -- 

make no mistake: Spirit can and does teach must only be willing to listen. 
it's all in the listening, whether you're alone on a bridge or in a book store --NHT