Thursday, November 24, 2011

Do you pray?. . . ..How?. . . Tell me. . .please.

The subject-line is a quote from a counseling session at the clinic the other day. . ."autre fois". As a matter of policy I do not write about what goes on at the clinic because of privacy-thing, professional ethics, and reasons along that line.  This post comes by way of exception because the subject asked me to write about yesterday's session.  The "subject's" name is Todd.  He is a junior in the college and we have been talking together regularly since the beginning of the term or semester.  We first met when he was a freshman and took the Introductory Psychology class I was teaching that year.  He was a teacher's delight in class. . .he knew when to talk and when to listen.  He wasn't afraid to ask difficult questions, and often brought up hard topics. . . .not in a show-off way, or BMOC-type, but because these were things in which he was genuinely interested and concerned about.

I ran into Todd during orientation days at the end of August and he wanted some time to talk.  I was free and needing some sort of break and exercise so we went for a long walk along some of the x-c ski trails.
He had been doing a lot of serious thinking, he said, and sorting out values and priorities in his life and wondered if we could meet regularly as part of the program at the clinic.  We decided to do this in an organized 
way, with regular times and place for our talks.  He wanted it to be "like for real", not just a chat-time when we happened to run into one another and had some time.

His question yesterday didn't come as a surprise, really, because we had been talking last week about religion and and beliefs.  "Justin, do you pray. . . ."  "Yeah", says I. Says he "How do you pray?  What do you do?  What do you say?. . . .. Who do you 'talk' to. . . .to God. . . ?"

Aside from the regular prayers I learned as a child, and now all the various ritual prayers we use at Church in the various services -  which, by the way, I do try to pray and not just say,  I have learned and try to do a form of meditation or contemplative prayer. . . contemplative being "quiet looking" or " quiet listening". . .
sometimes ths involved a little bit of reading first to quiet myself, and settle down for this meditative prayer.
It takes the average person ten to fifteen minutes to quiet down internally and externally from the busy-ness of our ordinary days.. . and usually one has given up with "prayer time" long before the quieting has had time to happen.

I work on - and prayer is work. . . .try it and you will see - what I call An Attitude of Gratitude - being consciously aware of and responding to the act of being grateful.  In my room at home and at school I have a sign board in my room.  The first one I found one day browsing thru a 'home goods store'. . . My sign was in a barrel with a bunch of other word signs. It is a 5" wide board painted white. . .to look old. . .with three words on it in clear black script: the words are   GOD. . . . GRACE. . . .GRATITUDE.   GOD - however you may believe or conceive of a god or higher power. . .or the universe.  GRACE from the Latin word Gratia = a gift. . we also get the word gracious from this word.  GRATITUDE as a state or condition of recognizing and being able to say and experience thankfulness for gracious gifts.. . .and remember that a gift is always freely given, not something we have to do.

Well, of course, I had to have this board to help remind me of all this above things which I was and still am trying to inculcate into my life.  Eventually I made another board so I could have one at school also.

Now, for the actual prayer-time.  I usually begin with a conscious expression to God of "Thank You" in my own words, just from the heart.  I think this is an act of the will. . . something I choose to do whether I feel
particularly grateful or not.  Get the head off in the right direction and the heart usually follows.

To do this, I use the  alphabet .   Yepper, the ABCs.  ;-)  I begin with A. . .or any letter. . .and I think about all the things, people, happenings  in my life which begin with the letter A.  for which I am grateful. . .a gracious gift in my life beginning with the letter A. . . .and one by one I "rest" in this person, event, idea...and then move along to the next. . .So If I am using the letter P and I think, of course, of PETER. . .and all the reasons why and how I feel grateful for this precious gift. . .special, constant, strong, weak, vulnerable, powerful, funny and the life. . . and then move along. . . .OR if I am pissed off about someone
or something I make the time to work it out, to forgive this person or situation, to be at peace about it.
And the like.

How much time do I spend in any of this?  As long as I need. . . .or have available. . . if not enough time I put it on the 'back burner' and let it quietly simmer. . . .peacefuly simmer. . . and work itself out. . .;-)
It is my life, these are my attitudes I am trying to enhance, improve on, change. . .and I want this all to be real. . .for me. . .not some mechanical "voodoo" I might go thru. . .working to "get it done and out of the way".  For me it is part of good mental health. . . of not allowing stuff to fester and get messy and smelly in some dark corner of my inner man.  You know what that can be like.  ;-)

Two things among many which I have learned. . . and which I think are very important:  I cannot be angry
and grateful
at the same time.  Impossible.  Incompatible.  Think about it.

The second thing:  I cannot be fear filled and grateful  at the same time.  It doesn't work; they just don't go together.  Think about it.  ;-)

So, Todd, this is my special time, at least once a day, briefly.  There are points in this we can talk about later, if and when you care to.  How I handle each person, event, thing depends on me and the importance it plays in my life and relationships.

While I was preparing to write this stuff down, from out of the blue and after a long period of silence I get an email  from JON, one of the blog readers. . . he was writing about something similar.  LOL  Well, you will see
for yourself; I shall post JON's email.

So if anything I write here is of any help to you be grateful for the person[s] who taught me.  If not, well then chalk it up to my foolishness.
                                                      ciao, ciao. . . . ..JUSTINO


Gary Kelly said...

I used to pray. I remember as a kid kneeling beside my bed, asking God to let me live till the ripe old age of 80. Now that I'm 67, 80 doesn't seem all that ripe anymore, and I'm hoping that God wasn't paying attention. Hehe.

I can no longer say to victims of tragedy that they are in my prayers, but I can say that they are in my thoughts.

A dear friend who died in 2006 wrote to say that he regularly prayed for me, and that he hoped I didn't mind. Of course I didn't mind! But I couldn't return the favor.

The thing is, it's who ya know. He knew God (or so he reckoned), whereas I don't. Therefore, I'm not in a position to ask for any special favors. If I tell someone they're in my thoughts, I'm afraid that's the best I can offer.

As to giving thanks or being thankful, I would describe myself as the latter, subtle though the difference may be.

GreginAdelaide said...

"Foolishness" Justin?
I think not, my man.

You get an "A" for this one.

I do something very similar, but without God.

J said...

Ah, Gary, it's no sooner ripe than rotten.

jimm said...

Where to start???

When i was a young teen, 13 or 14, i cursed the heavens for making me different. I couldnt enjoy the same growing experiences my friends did. It was frustrating, and clouded my thinking. (like Gary, I hope He wasn't listening)

Nowadays, I take long hikes in the woods. It clears my mind, then I can meditate some, and maybe reflect.

There is also a certain place on these hikes where i stop, always to ask Billy for his forgiveness. And always outloud. I never understood i was turning my back on him. And yet i draw my strength jus from having known him, and remembering how he cared enough to help me. A few other ppl come to mind as well. I feel renewed, and look forward, try to help others.

Justin, i guess you wouldnt call this praying, but it's my way to clear the deck, and follow true north.

Coop said...

I always miss the good stuff when it's hot off the press.
I never wait long enough to quiet down for prayer time. That's why it never feels like it works? Maybe?