Of Prayer and Perspective


Prayer is about perspective. It is a communal practice that gets us in touch with’what is.’ The Eastern religions call it mindfulness. I call it the art of paying attention, and art is a practice. Prayer is not so much about asking favors of God, though we all do that, as it is a means of aligning oneself with the rhythm of life, with space, with time, and place, with the ebb and flow, with random surprises, with naming the cardinal events of the journey, in apprehending beauty in her mischievous disclosure. Death and life, love and loss, dark and light are rudiments of the journey, necessary contrasts as to knowing the truth of things, knowing the mysterious, ambiguous, yet awesome truth of God. Why would it be otherwise? Mystery is knowable if one pays attention with the eye of the imagination. Beauty is the soul of mystery. Seek beauty in your praying.

In my paying attention of late I have noticed that the days are getting shorter. There is not nearly as much light at 6:00 a.m. as there was just two months ago. The sunlight has taken on its familiar slant for the coming season. The waters of the bay have already noticed. My body remembers. It is a little cooler in the morning, perhaps. The earth tilts toward the death side of its life cycle, approaching the inevitable dark, but even the waning light has a beauty of its own. Yin and Yang. In our common life there is the raising of children; the complicated problems of young adults; illness; surgery; financial matters; love and loss; joy and pain… and still the earth tilts and turns in deference to the spectacular beauty of creation. I believe that prayer brings us ultimately to the recognition that the whole of existence is indeed good, as God Godself called it, our sages tell us… God calls it good, all contrasts, all so-called imperfections, notwithstanding.

Luke is very much aware of the need to pray, the need for perspective. His gospel narrative depicts Jesus’ followers beset by suspicion and danger. They worry about the safety of their families; imperial informants, financial problems… and yet they are described as a community that is energized and empowered by gratitude and joy… the improbable audacity of God’s kingdom. At the heart of our humanity, when our illusions and distractions fail us… what is left at last is gratitude; thanksgiving and praise for the gift of life itself, and the privilege of participating in God’s enterprise of creation. Prayer is a means to give love a voice… and hearing and sight…. and love begets gratitude.

Prayer is perspective. Pay attention to the goodness that enfolds us, the mere gift of waking and sleeping… Be thankful, for at the last, praise is all there is, and that is perspective enough for a lifetime.



Share this post

3 comments Add your comment »

Get updates when new comments are added. Subscribe to the comments RSS Feed

Rob Gray
September 4th, 2016


Crawford Meginniss Sandefur
September 4th, 2016

Thank you for this wonderful message. It was very insightful…you make us all very proud.

September 18th, 2016

Profound, thank you!

Add your comment » (Number 354 at this site)