Connecting with thanks and praise
"Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines."
I haven't had a Memo in quite a while. I fell off the meditation wagon,
and my new-found yoga instructor moved WAY across town, bringing the
time commitment from from under 2 hours to over 3 hours. I find that
when I am off the wagon, I just don't get that many Memos, and if I do
see something, I tend to dismiss it as Nahtamemo.
This morning, I put on the coffee and then sat on the sofa and set the
mediation timer for 10 minutes. I figured I'd start slow, kind of slide
back into the groove. It was over in a blink. And then I got this Memo
in my Facebook news feed.
I admit to being perplexed about the usage of the word "pray". I tend
to think of praying as asking for something - usually, relief from some
uncomfortable-to-painful condition, or else for the end of some
perceived lack. I have never thought of prayer as being appropriate
when "the sun shines", for if the sun is shining, what could one
possibly lack or have to ask for?
A visit to Dictionary.com tells me that to pray means not only to
petition, but also to offer thanks and praise. I am not certain why my
concept of prayer consists exclusively of desperate supplication to some
terrible almighty. This is a horrible thing to have to overcome, this
notion that we are somehow at the mercy of a stern authority figure, who
has the power to make us happy but chooses to make us beg for it. What
a warped impression of the Universe and Creator this must be! Indeed,
all of the Old French and Latin roots of the word "pray" have to do with
begging. Even the Old English/Germanic relative means "to ask, enquire",
which is not quite desperation, but a far cry from thanks and praise.
"Praise" is more like what prayer really should encompass. "Praise"
means you're expressing approval or admiration, and offering "grateful
homage". So, we really don't need the "thanks" part of "thanks and
praise" - it's redundant, because "praise" comes with the gratitude
I am reminded of something my friend Georgia suggested, 'way back when I
crowdsourced the question, "What should my mantra be?". She said,
"Gratitude!". And my friend Lisa says she read somewhere that one
should say "thank you" at least 7 times a day. Ritualizing it at a
precise number, every day, makes it seem like prayer. In Judaism,
prayer is much more than beseeching; prayer's purpose is to connect one
to the Divine, not because the Divine requires it, but because WE
require it. We NEED to express gratitude, to connect with the source of
our abundance. It's good for us. It keeps us from focusing on lack,
the pain from which is entirely self-inflicted and illusory, at best.
In this sense, meditation time is actually prayer. It's a deliberate
seeking-out of a connection with the source, or as davidji calls it, the
"stillness and silence within". We require this connection, above all
else - more than the fearfully whispered tales of woe and lack, more
than all the forced ass-kissing. The Universe doesn't need that sort of
thing. That's just us, anthropomorphizing Her, ascribing to Her that
which we believe we would like if we were God.
Prayer is not for God. Prayer is for us. Prayer is better for us when
it's praise, because praise incorporates gratitude, and it's better to
focus on what we have than on what we think we don't have. Meditation
is prayer. Therefore, I should be meditating more often. Rain or shine.