Some thoughts on “true prayer” — and questions — to mull over from Everything Belongs:
We seldom go freely into the belly of the beast. Unless we face a major disaster like the death of a friend or spouse or loss of a marriage or job, we usually will not go there. As a culture, we have to be taught the language of descent. That is the great language of religion. It teachs us to enter willingly, trustingly into the dark periods of life. These dark periods are good teachers. Religious energy is in the dark questions, seldom in the answers. Answers are the way out, but that is not what we are here for. But when we look at the questions, we look for the opening to transformation. Fixing something doesn’t usually transform us. We try to change events in order to avoid changing ourselves. We must learn to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning. That is the path, the perilous dark path of true prayer.
- What does the language of descent look, or sound, like?
- What are the dark periods of life that I am on the edge of even right now, and yet choose to avoid?
- How, as a pastor, can I guide people into and through dark periods that allow them to experience genuine transformation?
- What are the dark questions that I try to push aside so that I don’t have to grapple with them in fear that I won’t like the answers…or won’t find answers at all?
- What circumstances around me am I trying to change rather than looking inside myself at what needs to be changed?