A year ago my family pilgrimaged and moved back to the small town that I grew up in. The vision that we had as we prepared for our move was a simplified life that included a lot of family, less work, and lot's of open country side.
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A television show that I enjoyed, which originally aired in the late 90’s through to 2002, is Dharma and Greg. It is about a free-spirited woman with two hippy parents who is very spiritual, very loving and very funny. She marries a conservative born and bred lawyer, and the exchange, dynamic and growth between the two is what makes this such a great show.
At one point Dharma is praying in a hospital chapel, and her spirit guide, a Native American named George whom she connected with personally before he died, comes to her aid and offers advice in her time of need. He hears her praying, trying to have a conversation with whatever deity will listen in the multifaith chapel, and offers these very poignant words which I remember to this very day.
Dharma is feeling remorse because of harsh words she had about her mother, and now her mother is in danger of losing the child that she is carrying.
"George, my Mom might lose the baby."
"And you feel like you made this happen."
"It feels like it."
"Well if you did, they should put your picture up here on the spinning God Wheel", he says, indicating the multifaith prayer icon on the altar.
"Whether I did it or not, I was thinking it."
"Because you were angry."
"So what should I do now? Do you think I should stay here and pray?"
"What do you mean by praying?"
"I don't know - talk to the universe, to God, the Great Spirit, whatever It is."
“Huh. So, you’re having a conversation with the Great Spirit, the Maker of All Things, and you’re doing the talking?”
This, indeed defines for me the nature of what prayer is seen as today. Even if we are not asking for anything, a lot of prayer in our culture and society consists of a one-way conversation between the individual and the deity/spirit in question. Prayer is a relationship, for me, and as such necessitates a give and take in everything, including both spoken and unspoken words. Too often in prayer, we forget to listen. When we speak and then listen, then we are communing. Otherwise, we are just talking.
Last Sunday I was invited to lead a prayer at a benefit for Syrian refugees. It was sort of a Pagan-ish prayer, since the audience wasn't Pagan and I wanted it to be relatable. Feel free to use it for your priestessing in non-Pagan situations, or simply as a template for your own prayers for Syria.
Take a breath, close your eyes, and turn your attention to the East, place of air and sunrise, of new beginnings. Send a prayer for wisdom: the wisdom to find a lasting road to peace, the wisdom to do what needs to be done. Take a breath and send that prayer....
Och, I keep screwing up the prayers. I keep forgetting that it's Winter now.
Temple worship has its own style, like set prayers. But even set prayers don't always stay the same.
Red Coat crowned with antler
(in winter: blue)
that sit cross-legged in the Mother's heart
to you, to you, my Stag,
I make my prayer.
My best friend has a mantra she says when her children are being difficult, "I love my child, I love my child, I LOVE my child …" and it helps to some extent when dealing with the upsetting behaviors of those we love. I've tried it out a few times myself, and it tends to lead me to laugh or at least to breathe and reconnect with my priorities.
Lately, the mantra hasn't been working for me. As a birthday promise to myself to change some of my own poor habits, I disconnected myself from Facebook for a month (still going), because it had become such a big distraction, it was bleeding into my writing time, my cleaning time, and worst of all, time with my kids. So, I set up a filter so all my notifications go to a special folder instead of my inbox, I deleted the related apps from my phone, and stop myself when I unconsciously start typing in the URL....
August, 1992, I was orientating myself around “Jerusalem of fire”, UNTSO headquarters, the Old City of Jerusalem, Gilo–my neighborhood, and my spacious, well-appointed cottage. The cottage, a condominium-type dwelling, overlooked a wadi and the Old City of Jerusalem. “Jerusalem of fire” as my Reiki clients often called it, attracted many moths to its bright flame. Being the wife of a UN military officer, I soon determined that I was here to observe the sights, sounds, and smells of the Holy Land, and at the suggestion of my first client in the Old City of Jerusalem, to write a book about my experiences in Israel. That’s when I began to keep a detailed journal.
My cat, Pumpkin Peace, a black and white mix (Jewish and Arab, I always said) was with us. She was a feral, undomesticated cat that I had found beside a garbage bin in Nahariya the previous year, and had adopted. She often jumped into my lap as I sat at the computer to write my stories. She was my 'familiar', had taken on part of my soul....