Juxtapositions: a Reflection on Pregnancy and Prayer

So I’ve been reading a lot on prayer lately, and thinking a lot about what it means to be pregnant.  And you may have to put up with some ramblings here, but I think the two may be connected, especially for me right now.

A lot of people have a problem with prayer. Not with the idea so much as the execution of it. What is it? How do you do it? Is there a right or a wrong way to pray?  Prayer is one of those things I believe that is so simple, we can’t accept it’s simplicity, so we complicate it.  Plus, if we take it as simple and move into prayer on a regular basis we’re opening ourselves up to God and doing that inevitably causes change.  And since change is uncomfortable, we complicate prayer to avoid it (but probably not consciously).

But that’s not my problem with prayer.  My problem with prayer is that after many years of awesome times praying and feeling God with me on a day to day, sometimes moment to moment basis, God has not-so-conveniently been absent.  Oh, not really absent as in not there. Just not perceivable by me.  And that makes prayer seem dry, sometimes pointless, like I’m talking at the proverbial ceiling with as much result. Only that’s not actually true, there have been some results, sometimes after I’d stopped asking for them (like baby!).

I like the prayer that Richard Foster uses in his chapter “The Prayer of the Forsaken” in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home.  It says:

“GOD WHERE ARE YOU!? What have I done to make you hide from me? Are you playing cat and mouse with me, or are your purposes larger than my perceptions? I feel alone, lost, forsaken.  You are the God who majors in revealing yourself. You showed yourself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  When Moses wanted to know what you looked like, you obliged him.  Why them and not me me?

I am tired of praying. I am tired of asking. I am tired of waiting.  But I will keep on praying and asking and waiting because I have nowhere else to go.

Jesus, you, too, knew the loneliness of the desert and the isolation of the cross. And it is through your forsaken prayer that I speak these words. –Amen” (p. 25).

And somehow, in praying that, in knowing that it’s okay to pray that (if you don’t believe me, read Psalm 22) I start to feel perhaps the slightest hint of the presence of God again in peace that comes to give me patience to keep waiting to see what this season is about.  This season being my vocational transition from last year (see about page if you don’t know what I’m referring to).

And so how is pregnancy like prayer?  In prayer, you surrender yourself to God and open yourself up to a relationship with God in ways you might not ever have expected.  Being willing to be pregnant is a surrender of your body to the process of the pregnancy, a willingness to be out of control as things change and your stomach gets increasingly bigger.  A willingness to be a temporary home for another human being, with whom you will have a long relationship, and the kind of relationship you can’t really anticipate, but only move into with a great deal of prayer, love and patience.

Prayer is totally natural and in many ways a bit of an alien experience in that you are conversing with a being that is totally other, and yet one who became flesh so that we could see God.

Pregnancy is totally natural and yet, when you think of having another person–a whole other person–inside of you, it seems rather alien and odd.

Both have become part of my every day life, much in the same way that breathing is.  I’ve arrived at the point where I’ve begun to pray all the time, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, if it strikes me, I pray. No fancy language, no formal openings, and since it’s an ongoing conversation, no “amens.”  I like this kind of prayer as I begin to find my rhythm again and rest in not knowing and not needing to know.  In doing so, I’m beginning once again to, as Tim Jones, in his book The Art of Prayer, puts it “…find traces of the sacred in the corners of the corners of the everyday, even in the bland and repetitious” (p. 15).

These are my juxtapositions for the day…

10 Things I Hate Love about You Me

Okay folks, since I’m blogging in my formal bathrobe today I’m going to write a list post and sort of give you a feel for where this blog is going. (don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll be back in the old ratty plaid one where I post things about what I eat and which teeth I picked after).

And you get a second post today because my driveway looks like this and I can’t go out!

See, as much as I love the random posts, which if you know me, random is one of the highest compliments you can get from me (As in “That was randomly cool!”), I’m on this journey-thing through this different space and I’m exploring somethings that are entirely new and some other things that I’d thought about but never had a chance to explore.

What’s that? You want to know what things I’m talking about?

Hold your puppies folks, I’m getting there.

*Note: to all of you who start looking at the below list and think it’s boring then you must also enjoy living fragmented, disillusioned, and frankly depressing lives. If however, you have any desire to learn to live holistically and live life to the full you will not only read my blog every day, but also invite all your friends. (and to those of you who are about to write me admonishing comments, by all means, do! I’ll take comments however I can get them. But first, google snarky, go ahead, it’s word 😉 )

Where was I? Oh yes, the list.

Dun dun dun.

1. (or should I start with 10? Drat that Letterman, I never know now…) Well if I was going from 10 to 1 with 1 being the sort of climax then 1 would be randomness (see above). These entries are likely to contain pictures of what I ate, what my cats ate (and what they dragged in), but never will you find an apology for my gratuitous use of parenthesis (I like parenthesis, it’s like hiding little secrets in the sentence for everyone to see :-) )

2. (or 9, if you insist). Total well-being.
Okay so, big topic, and in some ways a couple of the following topics could be viewed as sort of sub-topics to this one, yeah, I’m bad at lists (I don’t write outlines for papers either).

The world Shalom in Hebrew is usually interpreted as peace, which is a correct definition, but as I’ve come to understand it thanks to my friend Alli and, of course, my insanely intelligent Mom (who reads like 5 ancient near eastern languages including biblical Hebrew. I’d ask her to blog, but I’m never sure what language will come out), it has more of a connotation of total well-being. So when us Anglican/Episcopalian folk pass the peace and say “The Peace of the Lord be always with you” (and also with you… reflex response), we’re wishing God’s Shalom for the folks in the pews around us, and ultimately the world. (Don’t worry, you non-Anglican’s have equally valid ways of wishing peace, I’m very ecumenical 😉 )

Okay, that’s all well and good, but what does it mean in our everyday lives? Well, that’s where the next couple come in, and it’s a good thing, cause this was a long number 2 (9).

3. (8). Daily Expressions of Spirituality.
A lot of us protestants are familiar with the “quiet time” concept. I’m hoping to figure out meaningful ways to spend time with God in quiet and not so quiet ways this year. Sort of beyond the quiet time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

4. (7.) Exercise, fitness, and physical health.
There are more stories to tell in this category about the battles I’ve fought all through my mid to late twenties in this area. At 29, I had the choice to become depressed that I’d been sick or in not ideal heath for what should have been the physically fittest time of my life, or decide that my 30’s were going to be awesome in this department. So far, so good (I did just turn 30 in September, but I’m doing great, and I’ll share more of that journey in this category).

I’ve found some great ways to exercise at home, and some free resources that are helping me do that, and I’ll pass them along from time to time.

5. (6). Green living and local eating.
We’ve been slowly but surely greening the way we live (and we painted our dining room green! well, sort of olive-y, but still). We recycle, compost, are members of a CSA, and have really greened the way we clean, and as I continue making discoveries in this area, I’ll be talking about them (yes, I’ll be talking, surprise, I know).

6. (5). Gardening and preserving.
We planted an herb garden this past spring to go along with our CSA and this year we’ll be adding (hopefully!) a few more beds, which should give us enough food to start preserving some of it so our other half of the year can be more local too!

7. (4). Cooking.
I’ll lay odds, you’d already figured that one out 😉 Husband and I both love to cook, so I’ll be posting occasional pics and recipes from time to time. Neither of us can leave a recipe alone, so we’ll bring you along on our culinary adventures (and for those of you in the Nashville area, we might even have you over for dinner! but you’ll have to be willing to be blogged. No such thing as a free meal you know).

8. (3). Birdie!

Oh, huh?

9. (2). Art.
Well, this is the Wayfaring Artist after all. I’m primarily a photographer, but I also paint with acrylics, and do different things with mixed media as the mood strikes me. I also sew, but more for artistic purposes then say, clothes. I dabble in graphic design and web-page layout as well as interior decorating (I love to move furniture around!)

10. (1). …

…whistles…

what? I’m ADD, didn’t you know?

11. (0). (the zero means this one doesn’t count against my list of ten! numbers aren’t my strong point). Living in Community. I don’t even know exactly what I mean by this yet, but if you want to drop by and chat a while, maybe we’ll figure it out together.