Saturday, May 12, 2012

My First Prayer

During the synagogue service, after reading to myself the silent Amidah, the central prayer, I take a few moments for personal reflection.  Never has this individualized prayer taken the form of words.  As comfortable as I usually am in the realm of written and spoken language, the idea of developing my own prayer--whether in my head, on paper or aloud--has made me decidedly uncomfortable.  Instead, during that personal prayer time I pull images of people into my thoughts, and this is the closest I come to saying, in my prayer, "She needs help right now," "I hope he'll have strength during this tough week he's facing."  When I have contemplated talking to God (as opposed to ritually repeating what others once wrote or said to God), the idea has seemed at once arrogant and naive.

This Friday evening, before Shabbat set in, my congregation hosted a prayer writing workshop.  Despite, or because of, my hesitation about the topic I felt drawn to attend.  Despite, or because of, my struggles with this type of writing I questioned my desire to attend.  It took me until the deadline to register.

Writer and teacher Janet Judith Falon gave us examples of prayer writing in various forms: poetry, prose, haiku, acrostic, epistolary. We even glanced at Facebook and Twitter examples.

Most effective, she gave us an exercise to prepare for writing prayers.  Janet presented eight questions and asked that each of us draft a private list in response to at least one of them.  I chose three:
  • What are your dependable joys?
  • What would be the chapters in your spiritual autobiography? (This is a cheat category--I simply jotted down "The chapters in Creative License," the book of my collected sermons.)
  • What resources do you have to do good in the world?
From this, each of us was to find inspiration, choose a form, and write a prayer.  And we did.  And I did. 

Here is my first prayer:

As we hiked Hawk Mountain,
Brad and I on one of our small adventures,
Light thrust through the heavy canopy
A dramatic shaft cutting a path
Through the clouds and leaves
To direct a path before us
From the sun yet I am not sure where, but
I knew your presence in that brief moment.
I gasped
With the weight and the light
And the lightness, all at once.

In adventures since, a sliver of
That day, that instant of you,
Continues to rain down light.