Many things took a beating the week of the storm – our pipes, our plants, our power grid. Something else the storm stressed was our prayer lives. On February 21st, our Sunday morning class that reads spiritual classics together was feeling too traumatized to discuss the readings for that week, so we spent the hour deeply listening to how one another coped through the crisis. A common theme among many in the group was the inability to pray while in survival mode. We listened without judgement and offered each other encouragement for the journey. Here are several reflections on the subject. We would love to hear your “storm story” in the comments on The Abbey.
A Reflection by Joyce Palevitz
Once we were (mostly) out of the woods at the end of the week, I became aware of the fact that I had not done any of my usual morning prayer practice all week – not one day. All of my energy and focus had been consumed with thinking about the problems of each day: how to conserve the water I had; how to make the most of my phone battery; how to keep myself warm enough with layers upon layers of clothing. I was surprised to discover how easily my intention to be faithful to my prayer life had just slipped away – without my even noticing it. I think the most I managed on any given day was a short prayer of “Help!” It was humbling to recognize this and to realize that, left to my own devices, I’m a pretty poor prayer partner for God. However, God showed up anyway: praying with me through the texts and emails I received from friends from all over, so I knew I was not alone; giving me strength to shovel snow and to take care of myself; and guiding me to an inner peace that gave me the courage to get through each day. God prayed for me and with me, even when I couldn’t pray for myself.
A Reflection by Lynda Young Kaffie
A few weeks ago, we all experienced yet another unprecedented event in the form of the Polar Vortex. Losing power and water to our homes, being isolated by the ice-covered roads, and for many, running short of food, was stressful and disorienting. Survival mode took the place of any regular or normal schedule. In that situation, when everything is turned upside down, to have the rhythm of a regular prayer practice fall by the wayside or even entirely lose its place in the day, is unsettling. While you might have found yourself feeling guilty or undisciplined as the result of the lapse, there are smaller spiritual practices and intentions that might be easier and a better fit when you are facing another natural disaster, traveling away from home, have guests, or simply lack the focus to pray. Honoring the presence of the sacred in the daily has a long history in Christian practice. In Celtic Christianity there is an awareness of the holy inherent in daily life – blessings for making the bed, kneading bread, hoeing the garden, going to school, setting the table, etc. Finding the sacred in daily activities of modern life can be a source of gratitude and provide a sense of grounding – washing hands, putting on socks, checking in on a friend or neighbor, brushing teeth – all can become practices when you mindfully turn a brief, everyday activity into a prayer. Simplicity in the face of a stressful situation calms the spirit and gives clarity to the mind.
A Reflection by Gustavo Hernandez
We need to differentiate between spiritual practice and spiritual doing. We practice so that we can meet the challenges life brings with grace. Jesus said in John 3:8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” So we practice – to be like the wind – and navigate the landscape of life with its hills and valleys with grace. Being in the middle of a never seen before winter storm with all basic infrastructure collapsing all around us required us to tend to our physical and emotional needs and those of our families. This was spiritual work, and the only work which was necessary. Be grateful your practice was there to remind you to return to your breath, be present to the needs of those you love, and that no matter the landscape, we are on the road towards our destiny of eternal communion with the love that created us and sustains us.
We welcome YOUR story in the comment section below.