Updated: Sep 28, 2020
I never did figure out how to pray like a proper follower of the religion I was brought up in. The directions felt like I was putting together something that was supposed to be important and I was using instructions from a kit or it wouldn’t work. For years I acted the part, even getting on my knees, the required prerequisite for proof I was doing it right.
After my daughter was born so ill, I turned to prayer desperately. On the way back from the hospital I stopped into my local white-steepled church for the first time to meet my deep need to connect with a higher power. The aged minister was deeply moved by my story and stopped mid lunch to sit and pray with me. It felt so foreign. I was so desperate. He succumbed to his practice so familiar to him. I was hoping to become part of this supportive community, but the minister moved on due to various indiscretions with a fellow congregant. My newly formed bubble asking for help evaporated.
I kept being told people were praying for us. I even resorted to pretending I was praying but truth be told I was really angry. I fought with prayer and when I got desperate again, I pleaded. I never really felt like I learned how to pray until I stopped trying to emulate everyone else’s idea of prayer. Until I made it personal to me.
I set up ground rules because if I was going to pray to a higher power, this higher power was going to be safe for me. No mighty man in the sky any more. I liked the sound of God and I added Goddess too because women and men are equally counted in my heart. Then I added in every other being that represents love and light because I believe there is so much we cannot see. Okay, I had my first line.
God, Goddess, and all beings that represent love and light.
That got me started in prayer and I haven’t stopped. I defined what I needed for me to speak with my higher power. I set up my boundaries, answered my needs, made my rules and ignored all the ‘this way’s’ and ‘that way’s’. This became my foundation to keep moving as I struggled in my life. I found the voice of my heart.
My Authentic Voice
by Danna Faulds
from “From Root to Bloom”
I know my authentic voice
because it moves me like
No other. Emerging not from
the grooves of habit or belief,
but out of far left field,
or wherever the mystery
resides in me, it surprises
with honesty or shocks me
out of my complacency.
From the babble of competing
voices in my head, this one
stands out. I know my authentic
voice because integrity insists
on being noticed. It delivers
the experience of truth, the
when presence fills every
cell of me with “Yes.”
What resonated with me was “voice of my heart” and “integrity insists on being heard.” In the meditation, I had a dream, there was a fork in the path and I started to the left. It was short and there was a dark cloud, and a figure came out, just a head with no mouth. No voice. So I went back and took the other path. There were armed guards to keep you safe. It was longer and safe. I reached the end, and I was able to speak from my heart. I thought of something in real life. My minister asked me to do a spiritual practice class as a drop in. I resisted, how can you have trust and do spiritual practices together as a drop in. I listened to my heart and I came up with a compromise, an initial group of dedicated people, and then we’ll welcome new people and they can become participants. Like we do here. I’m much happier by listening to my heart.
I used to have a waiting room here in this meditation room to be safe because I wanted to control it. It’s been a process of trust for me. Control is an illusion.
I realized that I meditate before we meet. I am more comfortable being on the sidelines, and not the leader. I appreciate the model of leader and helper, being accepting where I am. I am surrounded by nature and have such gratitude.
I identify with your odyssey. I’ve been recovering from a high church where there was joint confession labeling us as miserable scum. I’ve been searching ever since then to whom it may concern. What came to me this morning in the meditation is a beautiful hymn “Spirit of Life”. I will now pray to the spirit to life.
This meditation group is an open door, a welcoming group of all sort of spiritual practices, wherever we are in this journey. It’s so good to have places that are welcoming. I define my higher power as unconditional love. I grew up in a formal religion and I belong to a faith community, but faith communities are different for a lot of us. It’s great that we can find common ground in this place of light and hope and honesty, and also feel welcome to be our authentic selves. And to me that’s my higher power with unconditional love and acceptance.
Sometimes what comes up for me in my meditation are things from a few days ago or last week. A while back we talked about the Zen story of how something bad happened to a family and one could look at in a different way and see that it was a good thing. Last night I was really tired and listless. Then there was a lot of ruckus on my dirt road where I live that caused me to go outside and intervene. In my speaking up I was feeling stressed. Later I had a zoom meeting and found myself energized because of the ruckus that I was wishing didn’t happen. The story came to mind, you can look at things in different ways.
I like the theme of looking at things in different ways. I’ve been trying to tame my monkey mind. I got a message yesterday about trying to put my heart and mind to work together. I’ve been trying to eliminate the thoughts, but I need my brain to think. In this meditation, I found a comfortable feeling where I could tap into my mind and heart and connect energetically the two. I feel hurt in my heart. So I visualized a lotus petal opening. It hasn’t been opened in a while. It’s pain, but it’s working, connecting.
My mother had a list of daily sayings. This morning's was “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”
I understand not getting comfort from prayer. I grew up hearing from all those male ministers that they were called by God. I kept waiting for the voice to call me. Integrity is what calls us. I believe we are all called by God, Goddess, whatever. We are children of each other.
On searching for a higher power, my son was in AA. He ended up finding “Refuge Recovery” which is like AA but based on Buddhism. They do a lot of meditating. It’s a wonderful group. He found his authenticity.