Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dawn Prayers, Day 3

When I was a kid, we used to go to my aunt and uncle's house for Passover Seder every year. My cousin's grandfather, Grandpa Leo, used to preside over the ceremony of the supper, reciting the prayers and leading the family in the remembrance of why we were there. I loved the beauty of the ceremony, the recitations, the stories, and the various tools he had. I loved his yarmulke (probably the single stupidest spelling of any word I know), his shawl, and everything else.

This annual celebration was likely the very beginning of my love for religions.

But now, years later, I realize that I was likely also highly attracted to those various accouterments. And that those very accouterments that attracted me could also have become a distraction to the spirit of the ceremony itself. That, perhaps, is why, as much as I love all those various doodads, I often prefer to just say my prayers with nothing around to distract me.

I thought about this when we got to the beach and my wife began fiddling with the incense and setting up her clarinet. Now I'm not saying that there is a problem with this, but just that I now understand a bit more about why I don't deal with any of that. I appreciate it, but I don't go out of my way for it. (Actually, I really loved the wafting scent that occasionally blew in my direction today.)

This morning, as we were driving down to the beach, my wife was saying that she had a new understanding of prayers and healing. She said that a way to approach healing through prayer is to state the intention and then turn all your attention to God. This is different from what most do, as they often turn towards God and then focus on the problem they want to fix. This is focusing on the negative. But if you simply state your intention, then you can turn towards the light and focus all your attention on the positive, allowing it to flow where it needs.

This, incidentally, is what the short healing prayer seems to look like. Almost the entire prayer is dedicated to focusing on God. It starts with mentioning the need for healing, but then seems to go on to all sorts of other things.

When we were sitting at the beach reading some prayers, I read one of the morning prayers, which has the phrase, "with my thoughts fixed so steadfastly upon Thee", and realized that this is another confirmation of this insight Marielle had.

So, today. This morning. We were sitting on a log, alone on the beach, with the fog low in the sky, but enough above the water that you could see quite far. We watched the birds and the waves, the gentle waves today, much softer than a few days ago. The birds glided along, a single reflection silently passing by. Quiet. Contemplative. An occasional cry of a gull. Peace.

When my wife began to play the clarinet, some of the birds sat and watched. And when she finished a lone seal swam by. She began to play again, and the seal paused, watching, listening, before diving under again.

It was a long moment of quiet joy.

What a great way to begin the day.

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