Saturday, September 22, 2007

Postures of Prayer

For those of you who don't know me in prayer, I'm fairly restrained in my physical demeanor. In public prayer, it's probably hands at my side, or maybe on the pulpit. In private, prior to the last several months, prayer at home sometimes happened at the table as I read a table blessing, in bed at night with the lights out, or on the run. I would not have said that any particular posture was conducive to reminding me to pray.

At the end of my field education experience I got a gift of a set of small ceramic praying hands from a woman who was the sole attendee at my Thursday night experiment in Song and Prayer. We had some wonderful prayer time together. Now I'm not much of a brick-a-brack person, and hope not to inherit my mother's set of highly glossy glazed bigger than life size set of praying hands, and these white ceramic hands are nothing like Irene's beautiful chocolate colored hands, but I put the hands up on the corner of the mantle.

I've started a regular set of morning stretches, mostly to deal with the plantar fasciitis and leg cramps that are exacerbated from sleeping in the air conditioning. And it was coincidental that when I got to the one where I take my left foot in my right hand and stretch it up while using my left hand to balance, that I ended up using the end of the mantle with the praying hands and the mantle clock. For all of the other stretches I count the seconds that I'm stretching, but for that one since I'm standing and looking at the clock, I don't need to. Since I'm also looking at the praying hands, I was reminded one morning to pray for Irene. This was occasional for a number of days, and then I realized that this was a wonderful time for prayer.

So now when I say to someone you are daily in my prayers, it means that while I'm standing on one leg, I lift her or him up in prayers on my list for the 20 seconds of each leg. You can pray for a lot of people in 40 seconds, standing on one leg. I am stretching more than my legs; I'm part of stretching the opening of the world for God's presence to be with us. I commend this posture of prayer to you--at least in the privacy of your own home. It is apt to work for flexibility and balance and to stretch with compassion while praying--a good practice for the rest of the day.

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