Monday, September 20, 2010


When Lillian was a baby, I tried to bargain with God.

It was, I suppose, a version of prayer, called in by the desperation of a bedraggled and insanely weary mother.

On a mild November day, I had put my infant daughter in her stroller and taken her for a walk. Fully anticipating her normal routine of screeching after being placed ANYWHERE, I was pleasantly surprised when she feel asleep.

As I went around the block and all over my little neighborhood, bumping along the sidewalk, crunching the fallen leaves, I asked God if he could relieve me a bit, maybe have Lillian take to a bottle; or maybe not breastfeed 50 times a day; or maybe sleep longer that 45-minute stretches at night; or maybe entertain being put in a swing, carseat, stroller; or maybe allow her own father to hold her.

I walked around all day carrying her, her head nestled between my neck and shoulder, and I pretty much ignored the 2-year old I already had by necessity. No one else could pick her up. Her screams signaled that she was actively being wounded, not being held by the father who helped create her.

Things....they were not going well, and I needed a bit of assistance.

It turns out the particular answer to that prayer was no. Or, at least, that's how I heard it. Lillian continued to nurse very frequently, continued to require constant holding (by me only, of course), and continued to have the sleep patterns of someone addicted to speed.

Eventually I just gave up, taking things minute by minute if I needed to.

Somehow we got through, and perhaps that's where I'm wrong about my prayer. Perhaps it's in the strength I still don't think I possessed back then. Perhaps it's in our survival. Perhaps it's in the fact that she did turn a corner...even if it was 6 months later.


(Also, she turned into this....that's a hard face to be irritated with!)

I've been thinking about prayer a lot. I've been thinking about my approach to it. Wondering how to make it more of a part of my life.

Not too long ago, I was trying to find someone a birthday present at the mall. I sat on a bench people watching for a bit, and watched a woman make a loop around me with a rosary dangling from her left hand. Her fingers, of course, at their particular spot on the beads. I watched her mouth move and no sound come out. I know someone was listening, though.

So...help me out. What do you do? Do you have a favorite prayer you say daily? Do you attend daily Mass? I'm not sure my schedule will ever allow that, but I wish that it would. Do you say the rosary? Download homilies to your iPod?

How do you actively weave prayer into the fabric of each day?

6 comments:

painted maypole said...

my prayers are sporadic. there's the mealtime prayer and the pre-bed with the kid prayer, of course. but other than those pretty perfunctory prayer, most other prayers are in spurts and fits through the day, some more than others. I, too, have thought I'd like to be more disciplined about it, but never seem to make it happen. I even started a prayer journal once. It didn't last a week.

de said...

I am excited to go to a free Mindfulness Meditation class at the hospital in November. I think this will help me go deeper with my prayer time, however much I am able to carve into my day. I really like the structure of the Loving Kindness Meditation (http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/subnav/kindness.htm).

I find that by concentrating on prayers for others, I pray a lot more. The one prayer that I always pray for myself is "Lord, heal those things in me that keep others from discovering your presence," or some version of that. By having something always ready on the tip of my tongue, at least I don't get flustered and fail to send up an organized thought. If I can't think, I just ask the Lord to look inside my heart, or to help me hear Him.

Giving yourself up to your child is not so very different from giving yourself up to God. This is a powerful lesson, and it seems that you lived it and learned it.

MemeGRL said...

I wish I had an answer for this. I keep reading blogs of people of faith, hoping something will rub off. I used to love the Sacred Space reflections but I was better able to do them at work than I am at home. God saying "no" is one of my hardest things. Right now he appears to be saying no to prayers for health for a close friend and I am so wildly fearful and angry I can't even focus on anything else. Not a great pattern, but there it is. Thanks for this reflection. It helped.

Lindy said...

I always hesitate to tell people what I do because what's right for me may not be your thing. Just do what seems natural for you. A great book is Jane Redmont's "When in Doubt Sing." I'd say it's a resource that all praying people should have. Check it out, read a few chapters, and see what's right for you.

claire said...

My favorite prayer is doing things with Godde. When I was the dishes, I have a sort of silent chat. When I weed the garden, She watches me do it. When I walk, I walk with Her. The other day, I was waiting in line at the post-office and suddenly I felt the holiness of Her presence.

I would say you pray by being. You pray already. It is obvious. And it is beautiful.

What a very beautiful post, you wrote here. Thank you.

Shannon said...

Anne Lamott says there are really only two prayers we need:

Help me, help me, help me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Works for me. The rest? Usually on the run. In my work, I often pray with people. All too often, I ask God for things the other person has been asking for--without telling me--which means that for me, even when I think God isn't listening, I have all this proof that God is.