Just when I think there are only two people in the world still reading this blog I get a random reader question to prove me wrong. I’m happy to be wrong. I’m also happy to be challenged by this particular question because the answer feels too complicated for a short email response.
Do I not pray because I do not claim a god, and if so, how do I justify a practice called Morning Prayers? Is this not blasphemy? Am I not playing at spirituality rather than practicing it?
I feel strongly that the goal of such a question is to spark a religious debate. I have been trolled on this topic many times over a decade of blogging so I know the signs and signals well enough. I am not taking the bait. I don’t have to. My spiritual beliefs make me free; not bound to confessions or professions of faith in order to remain worthy of them.
I don’t debate spiritual beliefs because a debate requires opposing views, and I don’t oppose anyone else’s spiritual beliefs. In order to effectively argue religion I would have to believe that my way is right and yours is wrong. I don’t suggest that anyone else’s way is wrong, or that mine is right. You won’t get any satisfaction if you’re spoiling for this kind of a fight. If all you’re looking for is a pulpit, you need to get your own. WordPress is free. Speech is still free in the U.S.A. as of the date of this post, especially religious speech. Open a blog and preach, brother. I will support and defend your right and privilege and laud your pursuit of happiness. Spiritual wellness for everyone within reading distance of this blog is important to me, or I wouldn’t still be here doing this.
At this point I usually get accused of avoiding the question because I can’t answer it. Let me go ahead and bless you, sweet fervent soul. We would have to define our terms in order to debate, starting with the term God. Once we agreed on a definition of God then we could move on to the question of whether or not I claim one, or more the usual point, The One. We probably wouldn’t be able to agree on this so the debate could never be productive. This is why there isn’t one world religion which suits all people. As I grow, live, and mature my understanding of the Divine also grows, lives, and matures. In short, my spiritual beliefs have evolved over time as I’ve accumulated more knowledge and experience over time. A debate at any one point would only be as relevant as my learning up that point, and I don’t know everything. Yet.
My ever-evolving beliefs embrace the concept that if human beings do originate from a divine source then human beings are part of that divinity. We are an emanation/incarnation of the divine essence that gives us sentient life, therefore we cannot be separated from it. We are part of it. We are made of it. If God is the name you choose to represent that divinity, then You are also God. I am also God. We are made of God. We are part of God. We are also God. Do I claim you? Yes I do. Do I claim me? Yes I do. Do I worship you and worship me? You bet I do. Do I pray to you or me? In as much as I might seek wisdom from both you and from myself, then yes, I suppose this could be considered prayer.
But this is not what I do during Morning Prayers. The name of my morning devotional practice was chosen for its historical romance. I’m a writer, which means I am first a reader. I read a lot. I read far more than I write. I couldn’t think of a good name for an early morning observance which includes a variety of activities to which I am devoted. I borrowed Morning Prayers from antiquity, when peoples of many different faiths practiced rituals specific to their spiritual wellness before breakfast and before the workday began. I love the poetry of ritual. I love the poetic interpretation of calling my own rituals my Morning Prayers. Poetry is an extension of my divinity. Analysis is no doubt an extension of your divinity. May they both be honored and glorified.
During Morning Prayers I write in the journal my step-son gave me last Christmas. Sometime I practice yoga. Sometimes I meditate. Sometimes I listen to music, drink coffee, and plan my day or week. Sometimes I draft blog posts or edit photographs like the one posted above. I wouldn’t define any of that as prayer and neither would someone who wants to challenge me on the existence of god, gods, God, etc., or my affiliation thereto. This particular week I vented onto paper, set some things free, gave thanks, gave some feelings a voice, and extrapolated fragments of insight from my writing over the past week. I wrote:
Sales goals are gross when they reduce human lives to numbers — especially numbers that represent revenue potential. I’m being asked to help a corporation make money off of the basic needs of human beings. Reducing those needy human beings to numbers shifts the focus to a quantitative achievement, which is supposed to make this more palatable, which is supposed to make it easier to motivate me. It doesn’t. It grosses me out. The goal should be how many needs can I meet for the purposes of improving human lives, not how many needy people can I identify for the purposes of cashing in on their needs.
I understand that freedom in a capitalist society includes the freedom for other people to make money by transforming the bathing, feeding, and sheltering of humans into a revenue source. People need to be paid for providing these services in order for these services to be valued in a capitalist society. I get that. I wish we valued these services because they cause society to thrive, because human beings meet their own needs by taking care of each other, and because we value human beings for more than the measure of their revenue potential.
My heart feels determined to thrive. It is a powerful force of my own nature. A foregone conclusion. If I am alive I will find a way to thrive, but not by selling my soul to a business model of gross.
(That might actually be a prayer.)
I have two itchy tick bites, one at the top of my butt crack and one under the fold of my right breast. I vented:
Tick bites suck. Pun intended. Why are ticks necessary in the natural world? Whose brilliantly asinine idea was it to allow ticks? Or mosquitoes? I mean, I can appreciate the fact that some living things crave my life juice so much that they must bite and suck me with bloodlust, but shouldn’t I get something better in return for sharing my blood? Itchy bites and risks of infection is the literal raw end of the deal here.
(Contains several questions, so that might qualify as a prayer too.)
Also sucks; people who are not fully vested in their own success — unwilling to do all the work necessary as opposed to just the convenient work — who scream at me when their success wanes. We are as successful as we decide to be. Decide to do only part of the work and we can expect only partial success. Screaming at someone who reflects this consequence back to us reveals a childish refusal to face the truth that we sabotage our own success.
(Sounds like the kind of information people receive when they speak of answers to prayer.)
I expressed my thanks:
- Grateful The Zombie made it home safe from Europe
- Grateful that people feel comfortable in my home on the rare occasions I have company.
- Grateful that my debt continues to go down, down, down as I resist bringing things into my life that are going to require copious amounts of dusting.
(Gratitude is one of the most basic forms of prayer, so obviously still praying here.)
Sometimes alignment means more than simply gravitating toward that which feels right. It is also moving away from that which feels wrong. It’s important to remain misaligned from certain things at certain times.
(Can I get an amen?)
Perhaps after exploring the question I can truthfully say that Morning Prayers are prayers after all, which would cancel the need to justify the name, as originally suggested by my dear reader. Kinda spooky how that worked out, no? Or maybe not spooky; maybe a divinely inspired question to amplify my spiritual wellness. So Dude, thanks for that. Hallowed be thy name.