My question for today is number 89: Do you pray? Who do you pray to and do you think
they listen? What do you say when you pray? Have your prayers been answered? It’s a long one.
I used to pray. I was Catholic until I was ten and I loved being Catholic. I loved the pomp and circumstance; the rituals; the rosary and the incense. I went to a great big church in London, England that had wonderful stained glass and nuns with huge headdresses that looked like a big bird was trying to pick them off and take them home for dinner. I remember in school we would all gather in the main area and sing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and my heart would just swell.
Then, when I was ten, and living in Canada, my dad started ‘studying the bible’ with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I put ‘studying the bible’ in quotations because we didn’t really study the bible, we studied the publications of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I didn’t want to; after all, I was going to be a nun.
So every Monday evening when Ann Mazur arrived for the bible study, I would take a handful of pennies from my dad’s penny jar, race out the back door and down Annette Street to the new-fangled round church down the road. There I would light all the candles in front of Mary and pray, pray, pray that my dad would stop studying and I could stay Catholic.
Now I must detour here to explain my understanding of money at the time. I was only recently over from England and in England a penny was a mighty thing. I had a penny every day and with that penny, I could pay my friend Mary a hapenny to eat the disgusting mess they served us for dinner and we both had enough money to stop at the shops on our way back to school and buy sweets. It also cost one penny to light the candles in the church. Of course this was in the late 50’s so things have probably changed since then.
One day during my marathon praying session, sweating from the heat given off by my rack of burning candles, the priest came out and confronted me. He asked, “How much did you pay for these candles?” He was obviously really mad so I whispered, “A penny each father.” He shrieked, “You wicked girl. You thief. They are ten cents each!” And he blew them all out and told me to get out.
I did and I never went back. I was no longer Catholic. So instead of spending Sunday mornings relaxing in the cloud of incense and daydreaming about when I could wear those cool birdhats, I sat through five long boring meetings a week, looking up scripture after scripture. No chanted prayers. No big cathedrals. Just one long freelance prayer at the beginning and one at the end.
I still prayed but it wasn’t the same.
Then, after a lifetime of boring meetings as a JW, I realized that I just plain didn’t believe that stuff anymore. I moved on. I became a Wiccan and learned spells. Then a pagan and learned new rituals. I took a five week meditation program with a Buddhist Monk and I learn to really connect with the Universe.
They say that prayer is talking to God—meditation is listening to God’s response.
So now, I talk with the Universe by expressing my thoughts, feelings, intentions and desires. And then I listen to the response by meditating, tuning into my intuitive self and paying attention to my thoughts, gut feelings and ideas that come to me. Now I feel like I am in a conversation with the Universe rather than talking, talking, talking.
It makes sense to me. It feels right.
So are my prayers answered? Obviously the one about saving me from the JWs wasn’t because I ended up staying a Witness for many decades. But there’s something wrong at a deeper level with a prayer that has to be paid for. Kind of like sex, I think.