We can take any act and turn it into prayer. The necessary
ingredient is to be continuously conscious. To be
continuously conscious, the soul needs to
be always open toward expansion. Being open by itself is not enough, because openness alone does not provide the energy necessary to counter inertia.
The bird, to take flight, has to do more than position its wings correctly and let go with its feet. Some force must propel the bird upward and outward, away from its static state. What is it that draws the soul into expansiveness, that overcomes the soul’s tendency to stay stuck in unconsciousness? It is the magnetism of the Divine that calls to the soul. Therefore, to be continuously conscious means to be open, to let go of one’s present state, to fly into the expansiveness of the Divine, to let oneself be drawn into it.
How does the expansiveness of the Divine reach us? Often I catch myself thinking of the Divine as being far away, as though the Divine can be located at all! But I find it helpful to imagine, instead, the Divine floating everywhere in the cosmos, reaching into every space and into all matter which occupies space. I imagine the Divine sending out little invisible particles, like purifying rain. I call it “grace.”
Grace is continuous, coming to penetrate and purify us and to expand and transform us into the Divine Likeness. This is how I imagine the Divine Expansiveness reaches us. It is this into which we fly when we open ourselves consciously. Like the bird, we let go of our branch (our old habits), and spread our wings (expand our consciousness). Our intuition of and longing for the Divine cause us to actually take flight. Although the Mother’s grace is continuous, everywhere, it can only enter us if we open to it. More and more, prayer becomes an integral aspect of living, because every moment of my life is an invitation to receive the Divine Mother’s grace.
In every moment I can ask myself: How can I expand this moment? How can I be with the soul who is near me? Am I asking this soul to understand something which he is not capable of understanding?
How can I relate to this soul in such a way as to appreciate what he does know, and to offer him another possibility? How can I accept my own limitation? What can I learn from my limitations? From those of others? In asking these questions with complete honesty and openness, and by surrendering my will to answer the questions with my life, with my acts, I am praying.
There are times when I receive grace spontaneously, as when I am moved by awe, wonder, beauty, or union with a soul in joy or sorrow. These moments, these movements of my soul are a form of prayer also. A toddler initiates a game and I imitate her; she looks into my eyes and laughs with glee. Although she can’t talk yet, she knows I understand her, and our moment of shared happiness is a prayer. When I pray for someone who is in pain, I open myself to divine grace so that I may learn how to best help him.
Sometimes I open myself in prayer but I do not perceive the touch of grace that I’m longing for. This is because there are times when I am like a drought-plagued land, whose reservoirs are dry. It can rain and rain, but the reservoirs will not begin to fill up until the thirst of the parched earth has been quenched. Faith carries me through these arid times. The effects of prayer cannot always be perceived; attempts to perceive them are a distraction from prayer.
Prayer sometimes comes naturally, but usually I have to work at it. At night I pray that I may offer myself in sleep, and in the morning I pray that my day may be a day of continuous prayer. Even prayer itself needs constant purification. Sometimes I catch myself saying, “Oh, Divine Mother, please let this be my train coming—I’ve been late for work once too often already!” So then I ask myself how I can purify this thought (because I know it’s not really a prayer). I pray: “Divine Mother, I humbly take responsibility for my actions. Tomorrow morning I will remember this moment, and I will organize my time more efficiently.”
At times I am not open at all; I am completely unconscious. Then, the Mother’s grace may also come to me, totally unexpected and (it seems) undeserved. Instead of the gentle rain, her grace then is like a flash of lightning. In these instances I am fortunate indeed. The Mother is reminding me: PRAY!
This article was first published in Seeds of Unfolding, Vol. IX, No. 1, 1992.