Sunday, November 09, 2008

Prayer In The Hospital And Beyond

I believe it is safe to say that when you are a patient in a hospital you are easily moved to prayer. A hospital stay is never welcome, you usually feel awful and you are nervous and anxious about what is or what may be wrong with you. I certainly experienced all of this in the past week. My prayer was simple and involved few words. Mostly it was me quietly saying, "O God, please take care of me". I did have one experience where I deeply felt God's presence. It was mid week about 5:30 AM. Mornings begin early in the hospital. Most days nurses were waking me up in darkness to take my blood. After one such bloodletting I was sitting upright in my bed. Although I could hear activity outside my room, it was mostly quiet. The morning sun was slowing rising and light was showing through the trees in the park outside my window. I simply sat in silence and bathed in the moment. Occasionally I would whisper a mantra like prayer but for the most part I was still and quiet. I was overwhelmed with peacefulness and God's presence seemed palpable. It was a holy moment and the rest of the day I seemed to float in complete harmony with everything.

Although my life and spirituality have certainly been influenced by the monastic life as lived at Gethsemani, in reality I have a Franciscan heart and the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi is closer to who and what I am. Last week I received the following thoughts from Father Richard Rohr.

St. Bonaventure, building on the Franciscan experience of the Incarnation, saw the "traces" or "footprints" of God everywhere. The "journey of the mind to God" was to learn how to see the unity of all being, how to listen to the hidden God and how to read the footprints that were everywhere evident. The result was a life of gratitude and reverence and simple joy—a Franciscan spirituality. Thus Bonaventure, like most great saints, combined a highly contemplative personality with very active and effective ministry in secular and practical affairs. These words are from Richard's book entitled Radical Grace: Daily Meditations.

My spirituality and my prayer are simple. They do not involve a lot of words or disciplined practices. Sometimes I refer to the spirituality of my life. My prayer is my life and actions. It is being aware and present to the moment. It is simple joy and deep gratitude. It is full of wonder and awe with all of life. It is getting lost in the autumn beauty that currently surrounds me. It is swimming in the ocean that is God. It is life.

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