'Tis the Season

The season of Lent is near and dear to my heart. Observing Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday - my favorite Holy day - is one of those thin places for me.

A place between my everyday and the Divine. A place between the mundane and the Holy. A place where time vanishes. A Spiritual happening.

Spiritual practices are possibilities for thin places. Some people call them spiritual disciplines. For this free-spirit girl discipline sounds a little too strict and confining. Practice on the other hand is synonymous with training, which I know much about.

Prayer is a spiritual practice.

I grew up reciting prayers - Our Father, Hail Mary, the Rosary - I didn’t learn prayer other than rote ones. When I heard people talk about prayer and realized they “prayed” in their own words, I was intimated. I had no idea how to pray something I hadn’t already memorized. You know, words that already had been vetted as acceptable for prayer.

Then I discovered prayer is wider - as in more expansive - than I imagined. I also discovered I already was praying in ways I hadn’t considered to be prayer. Praying is an act of intentionally being with God.

Eyes open. Eyes shut. Standing. Sitting. Lying down. Running. Driving. There are not a lot of rules involved in praying - my kind of spiritual practice.

“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” 
- Rumi

During Lent, I am practicing Lectio Divina. Yes, I know, that sounds like it has something to do with wine, but it doesn’t. Lectio Divina is a Latin term that means divine reading. For my Lenten practice, I am reading a scripture passage, but I have practiced Lectio Divina with other non-Biblical readings. The passage should not be too long though.

Read your passage of choice slowly several times. Then, quietly reflect and ruminate about the reading, discerning the meaning. The last stage requires sitting still and quiet and listening while letting go of your thoughts. Allow the words to rest in your heart. I am reading the same passage daily until Easter. In light of the few rules rule, you may choose to read a different passage daily.

Let me be clear. Prayers and praying are two different things. Prayers are those words I learned to say. Praying is something I do with my whole self. Praying is about me listening and not about God listening. Praying doesn’t have to involve words at all. And sometimes, I write my prayers to God.

Do you pray? When do you most feel the need to pray? Do you have different avenues for praying in your life?

Praying can be a mystical experience, but it need not be a mystery.

“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” 
- Mother Teresa