I was thinking today about prayer.
Even people who aren’t praying to God in Christ’s name like I do have a practice resembling prayer… one friend who is not a Christian described it like this:
“While we might disagree as to [naming it] prayer, we agree on the same basic principle at difficult times: we must take a quiet moment and seek clarity and direction. I may call it just thinking, but if you prefer the term prayer, then use that term and do it. But it is essentially this – take the time to make a meaningful decision that is brought about with the clarity, far removed from anger and emotion.”
This morning I woke up, praying before my eyes even opened. I went to bed with a lot on my mind and chewed on it through my dreams all night. So when I started into that half-wakeful state that is the precursor to the harsh reality of daylight and a desperate need for caffeine, I had a picture in my mind.
Sometimes when I pray it is an outpouring of joy, gratefulness, and thanksgiving. If I had a visual of that type of prayer it would look like the cover of a super-cheesy Christian music album; someone with their arms stretched up to the air, wearing a breezy white dress, with doves cascading around their head.
As cheesy as it is, that’s an amazing type of prayer to let loose. It’s a prayer that makes you feel like you know where you fit in the tapestry of human experience, that you have a purpose you are fulfilling and there is a general sense of well-being with the world.
On the opposite end of the spectrum I have another vision (this is the type of prayer I woke up to this morning):
Sometimes prayer looks like a broken down, boarded up barn. If you’ve ever seen a wreck, that’s the way this two-story barn looks. But the barn is sealed up tight as a drum, from hayloft to swinging doors, even in its brokenness.
Then, you see a teeny, tiny hole in the frame of one of the windows.
From that itty bitty hole you see the beak of a tiny sparrow. Not even an attractive sparrow. The fight to get out has rumpled its feathers and it’s eyes are a little dull. The best description for that disgrace of a fowl is “pitiful.”
But as you watch, that pitiful sparrow pulls itself out of the boarded up barn and preens for a minute to try to get its feathers back in order. It shakes its head and gives an exploratory hop. Finally, tentatively, that sparrow stretches its wings out and leaps to the air, heaven bound.
In my quiet waking time this morning I realized something profound to me… both of the birds in my extreme pictures of prayer, well, they fly. One as a beautiful, majestic, confident animal, one as a tiny, hurt, pitiful animal.
But they both fly. Which means the flight… well, it’s worth the effort.
That’s my deep thought for the day.
Just in case my deep thought didn’t resonate with you, here’s a real one from our friends over at Saturday Night Live:
“I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they chose a king, they don’t just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.” Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey