Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Entering In: Third Bead

So far we've taken two "steps" from our Centering Bead toward the first of our four major prayer beads; we've taken two steps in the four-step process of entering into our prayer. As I noted in the first post on this topic you can do this in any way that makes sense for you. I've composed a prayer that is all about "opening," and thus far I've talked about opening my eyes and opening my ears. When I engage my prayer bead practice, the third bead's prayer is:

Open my hands, that I might let go of controling things and grasping after false security.

This is considerably different than the prayer I wrote about in Simply Pray. As I said it then, the prayer was, "Open my hands, that I might freely give whatever is mine to share." (p. 68) These things change over time. I have no idea exactly when or how the one prayer changed into the other. All I know is that now, where I am in my life with the concerns before me and issues I am wrestling with, the new phrase is the one that makes the most sense to me.

It is important, as with any disciplined practice, that you stick with the words and forms you choose for long enough that they can have the time needed to work their way into you, psyche and soul. Yet it is equally important that you hold onto them with a light enough touch that they can change as you do. Note that the Christian's so-called "Lord's Prayer" -- also called the "Our Father" -- actually exists in two fairly different forms. It is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (6:9-13) and the Gospel of Luke (11:2-4). Now, this is not as radical a change as occured in my prayer, yet it just goes to show that even the most well-known words change over time. (And not just "debts" and "trespasses.")

So I'm now concerned with the need to let go of control. One of my favorite bits of wisdom comes from the Rev. Barbara Merrit's contribution on adversity as a spiritual practice in Everyday Spiritual Practice. She writes, "Whether or not we believe in God, we must recognize that we ourselves are not God." I've written elsewhere that even during times when I did not believe in any kind of Higher Power I seemed to be living my life as if I were at least applying for the job. I want that to stop. I need that to stop if I'm going to have any chance of finding peace and balance in my life and I really want both. So each day I announce my attention, I ask the help of the universe -- of the Spirit of Life, of God, of the Living God, of the "really Real," of the Life in life -- to help me "open my hands, that I might let go of controling things."

And that not only applies to my life "out there" but this time of prayer as well -- I want to try to make sure that I'm not trying to be in control of what happens here but am, instead, open to its unfolding on its own. Even that's not easy! Yet again, as I mentioned in the last post, my teachers at Shalem encouraged us to think of prayer as something that God was already doing in us -- our job is to get out of the way, to quiet the internal noise and stop trying to direct the flow of things enough so that we can become aware of and attuned to the prayer God is praying in us. Not easy for us results-oriented, action-focused, product-driven American personality types.

The other thing I try to remind myself of here is that much of what I seek after as security is actually a false security: the approval of others, the material things, the momentary feelings of success. None of these things lasts, and so none of these things provides the kind true security that can provide real peace of mind and heart. And so I seek to stop grasping after those things, to "open my hands," and instead to pursue only those things that lead to real security.
And finding those things, one might say, is what the rest of this prayer stuff is all about.
In Gassho,
PS -- because of the holiday on Monday, I'll post again on Tuesday. 'Till then . . .
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