Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Momentary Reminders of Prayer

I believe that one of the hardest spiritual practices for most people to follow is to slow down and give the Holy Spirit a fertile ground - and listen to spiritual guidance. This involves some discipline, a setting aside of time and the ego/self, and requires profoundly private prayer.

I enjoy praying at Mass and with others. When I'm in a group that says the Our Father or another prayer, I feel a common bond that is at once joyful and sublime. I do not feel a part from but feel a part of in those moments.

Yet, for me, in order to truly discern God's will, I require private prayer. I've done this since I was very young . I believe that I was led to it by the Holy Spirit so that I may find further spiritual guidance - when God wills it. I know I can't force this to happen- I can only be open to it. So I've always accepted that it was part of the process for me.

Over the years, I've had periods of time when I found it almost impossible to slow down and trust this process. I went through angry phases where I would turn my face away and refuse to pray. I found this spiritual separation very painful. I rationalized it by saying that I did not want answers or guidance in God's time or way but my own. When I returned to my usual practice of prayer and stillness, I felt renewed even though the anger did not immediately lift.

I've learned that it's best for me to think of my paralysis as an advantage in all of this rather than as a hindrance. Who better to practice stillness than a quadriplegic? But it's not as if because of my disability I have nothing to do or cannot do anything. It's because I need to plan when I move my body. Each part of it only moves after a bit of laying out a route. If I want my leg to lift, I have to lift it. If I want to get across a room, I need to get into a wheelchair. If I want to eat I need to go get a special device.

All of this gives me the gift of that split second, that reminder of my need to pray. It's only a moment but that moment has been a great gift to me. I often wonder if I was not paralyzed if other reminders would be placed into my life by God. I bet they would. I think everyone has them. When we listen to these momentary reminders and practice profoud prayer, in that stillness we can remain open to discern our next step - or roll of our wheelchair.

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