I have prayed in vacant rooms that were filled with benches.
I have knelt on smooth wood and felt it bite into my knees. I have known prayer, and in between these bites, I have know that sometimes God hurts.
I have sat in a room that 30 minutes prior, choked in smoke. I have smelt the impact of water on warm ashes. I have felt it rise and inhabit my pores. I have poked my tongue into the air, tasted ashy humidity.
When they should have been closed, I have opened my eyes, I have let them wander. I have seen them go on safari. They have watched clean feet dry on pieces of clean wood, toes lost in dripping peace. They have met other wandering eyes and forced the second pair to cower behind eyelids. I have sought more open eyes and found none. I have lifted my eyes, not to the mountains, but to the drying, soot covered bits of firewood. I have scared myself by imagining that soot falling into my eyes; my God’s wrath for the disrespect that is unclosed eyes during prayer. My mind has wandered and I have forgotten His wrath, as quickly, as conveniently as promised in the gospel of the repentant.
My mind has returned to my body, to find the prayer still ongoing. My lips have moved, mimed that old prayer; her troubles, her state of widow-ness, husbandlessnes…the weakness that is a woman without a protector, her poverty even when the tea bonus floats in her bank account, the burden that is life attempting to live like Christ with the full knowledge that she really cannot. I have said this prayer like it is my own. Over and over and over and over again. Until repetition turned the prayer into a song I do not care for. I have seen beads move between between fingers and had my head master the dance that accompanies the rosary. I have acted prayer until the freedom I imagined for myself has become a reality. I have ran, like the freedom was a ghost and I turned into wind.
I have swept the floors of the earth, this earth, His earth and found freedom in all my descriptions of it. I have turned into a pillar and cycled destruction into existence. I have faced walls and let it all get to my head; some days, air can beat stone but my life has not turned into one such day. I have found myself uttering single sentences that sounded like prayer. They brought salvation but stupidity takes a minute to extinguish and I keep trying to beat stone… I keep losing. I can feel myself emptying; my bones are heavy, but it’s my soul that I worry about; it weighs down.
I am convinced prayer would fix this, but I worry that I do not know how to say one… So why don’t you, say a little prayer for me.
Image courtesy of @mianophotography