I've written lately, recently, about silly leftist bumper stickers. They seem like very narrow guides for living, a weak attempt to assert truth: Violence ends where love begins. Better living through chemistry, despite its ironic 1965 overtones, has more meaning. What these slogans lack is any real allusion to the Universal we call God. The Geometry of Divinity. The Atman. Brahman. The Word. Allah. Amen. I Am that I Am. Hollywood shows us how to connect with god: make a movie about the Nazis and the Ark of the Covenant, have the secret forces of the government and the X Files steal it at movies end. Spooky, mysterious, paranoic, and nonsense. Some effort is required. Can you kneel? Ah, there's the rub; the first big barrier...pride. A guy would feel very silly dropping to his knees, wouldn't he? I suppose so, but one has to begin somewhere. Prayer can only be put off for so long. One can tap lightly at God's door or wait for him to show up. He uses battering rams to get our attention-alcohol, cancer, battle, divorce. Take your pick. I'd go with the knees route. Eyes closed can help, but no one will be looking at you, and if they are, it will be envying your ease at slipping into the prayerful posture. I believe one of St. Francis' prayers, ( easily many unbelieving/&non-Catholic'smost favorite Saint-no fire, not too much suffering there, well, he did receive the Stigmata, see Giotto's painting,) was "My God, my All". There. How hard can that be? Needn't even move your lips. Together, "My God, my All." Rather comforting, no? Comforting why? Comforting what? Pick any moment in your life for which you want comfort, cleaning the cat litter box, (the phrase is not greatest thing since sliced bread, but greatest thing since clumping cat litter), to some of the biggies. To God, one size fits all. Neither smelly cat boxes, nor rotting potatoes, nor backed-up toilets, nor prostate cancer, car accident,grief, death, explosion and fire can separate us from the Love of God. Do you believe that? Is it less true if you do not? Here's a slogan from before cars, that would have been on Julian of Norwich's car: "Sin is behoovable, but all shall be well, all shall be well, all things shall be well." (Julian came in a close second to the Bernadette of Lourdes above.) Since you cannot hear it in the background, I will tell you what I hear. From Goreki's Symphony #3, The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. The Naxos recording, Soprano Zofia Kilanowica:
Prayer inscribed on wall 3 of cell no. 3 in the bassement of "Palace," the Gestapo's headquarters in Zakopane; beneath is the signature of Helena Wanda Blazusiakowna, and the words, "18 years old, imprisoned since 26 September, 1944.
"Mamo, nie placz, nie. Niebios Przedzysta Krolowo, Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie. Zdrowas Mario."
"No. Mother, do not weep, Most chaste Queen of Heaven, Support me always. Zdrowas Mario."
Zdrowas Mario, Ave Maria- the opening of the Polish prayer to the Holy Mother. I used to belong to a new age outfit. Outfit as in," there were a hell of a lot of things they didn't tell me about when I signed on to this outfit." (That's printed on a coffee cup my father had; with a picture: a cold, hungry cowboy soaked in rain.) But much of what I once believed I still believe. Much is close to the Catholic church. The new age outfit said in our time we would see the rising up of the feminine energy, the feminine aspect of God. Ave Maria. Zdrowas Mario.
In their terms, the Mother Flame. Goreki's soprano certainly sings prayerfully. Aren't we all locked in cells? Locked up in greater or lesser degrees of suffering? Or even lack of suffering. That may be the greater difficulty. God is set aside for Sunday's. Where is He/She the rest of the week? There, in the cleaning of the litter box. Slicing potatoes. Too obviously there in the screeching tires, shattered glass of a crash, when we really need Help, Now! For it to travel well, Prayer needs a rut, deep like prairie schooner-covered wagon wheel tracks worn into the low passes of the West. Gentle daily conversing. "My God, My All." Or," God is, I Am."And gratitude, buckets of the stuff. Gratitude makes splendid axle grease.