2.20.2009

Booberry!

For dinner, Annie and I went to Bamboo House, a local Vietnamese restaurant. The owner's 4-year old daughter wearing her mom's high-heeled, pointy shoes, and holding a large orange, greeted us. I ask, whose shoes are those? She pointed toward mom at the counter and said, 'Mom.' Then I pointed at her orange, what's that? She answered, 'booberry.' I laughed hard. That was so good.

Now. What's booberries got to do with praying, which is what this blog is about. I asked myself about that too. And this might be a stretch. So here goes.

Most of us still have the same image of God we were given when we were as young as our cute greeter. Maybe a God who is an old white male, with a long white beard, and always looks angry. That's a major 'booberry.' We were also taught that to pray, we need to memorize the Lord's Prayer, and other common prayers, while kneeling, hands clasped with eyes closed, and heads bowed down. That's the 'booberry' I want to discuss here. (The image of God is another topic. Get the book 'The Good Goats' by Dennis Linn. It addresses this topic so clearly and in a fun way. It presents God as loving, kind, and merciful... always!)

Most of us never outgrew this way of rote prayer. After a while, we were just moving our lips with the words. The prayer no longer connected us to the object of our prayer. Then, we got bored with prayer and let go of praying altogether. So for some of us, our prayer life never reached college, and perhaps never even finished high school. 

It's time to revisit praying from a different angle. I didn't say 'new' but different than what we are used to. I would guess (I stand corrected... always!) that praying with the body, heart, and soul predates the formation of all organized religions. Praying this way is intuitive. It springs from the guts, from the heart, from the spirit within. Just go back to the last time you were scared, or surprised, when you let go of an automatic "OMYGOD!" The image that comes to me is of Thomas falling to his knees and bowing his head as he said "My Lord and my God" when he realized it was the Risen Lord talking to him. That's praying with the body, heart, and soul! The whole being is directed toward the Divine, fulfilling God's commandment to love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength.

Well. Guess what. The prayer sessions in this book helps you to pray holistically, with your whole being. As Father Thomas Ryan in his foreword said: This book contains the 4 basic ways of praying: oral, mental, affective, and contemplative. It will help you break away from childish modes of prayer. It could bring new energy, a new life to our relationship with the God that the psalmist of old has a close and personal relationship with.

And even if the 40 prayer sessions in the book don't bring you to sainthood right away, your circulation and breathing will be stimulated. In the process, awakening the whole being to the Divine Presence. Then maybe we'll see that what we're holding is not a booberry, but an orange.

Oremus. Let us pray.

1 comment:

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Hi Ray - first of all the OMG phrase regrettably reminds me of many 14-16 year old girls who seem to utter the phrase about everything from a new shade of lipstick to a new pair of skinny jeans. It also reminds me of their mothers who use it to describe the latest gossip, the latest dessert they've tasted and the latest hot movie......so for me OMG is totally overused and abused! There!

That out of the way, I do believe we as humans are meant to pray with our whole body, mind, and spirit and that indeed the body may be the least used of the three. Having experienced your workout sessions during a spiritual retreat, I am truly a follower of your idea of engaging ourselves with prayer in every possible way!

I think your "booberry" point is a good one that we do hold images of who we think we are, what we think we are engaging in on a daily basis, and how we can possibly turn that all around and realize that we are dealing with a child of God every day and we are it!

Thanks for a nice post.