Lately, prayer makes the most sense to me through metaphors. Prayer is asking someone to go to an important party with you and genuinely not knowing what their answer will be. Prayer is throwing a net into the sea: maybe my request will be swallowed by the waves and maybe hundreds of fish will leap into my boat or maybe the net never actually left my hands because I can’t let go of whatever is worrying me. Prayer is the wise men following a star to find a child in a manger. Prayer is a thank you, a please change this, a this is not how it is supposed to be.
What does it even mean to pray to God? To actually pray authentically, without it becoming trite, without it just becoming a monologue? How can I pray when I don’t want to, when I think it doesn’t matter or change anything? I am intimidated by prayer and want to love it and sometimes I do love it. Sometimes I do not.
Prayer is something I think about constantly. I mean, my undergrad senior community art project was about it – I spent nearly a year reading about it and making art about it and asking other people what they thought about it. I keep thinking I understand it and then not understanding it, learning and unlearning it, and like everything else important, I’ll probably just keep relearning it for the rest of my life.
I start out with the best intentions and then my mind wanders and I begin to worry. I begin thinking about the car accident I was in earlier this week, the one I should have been seriously injured in, I begin thinking about my kiddos at work, I begin thinking about laundry, about errands, about anything, really, other than praying.
I am distracted and busy and this busyness keeps me from the scary task of being vulnerable with God and myself.
Advent, an expectation, a hopeful anticipation of an arrival, a waiting, O Come O Come Emmanuel. Prayer, all of these things. This year for advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, I wanted to make something tangible. Every day, I’ll be making a four inch mosaic square as a way of slowing down long enough to work through this relearning of prayer. At the end of Advent, these little squares will culminate into an advent mosaic, a hosanna, an arrival.
A poem on prayer from Mary Oliver, because honestly who could ever get tired of her writing?