a life of prayer
cultivating a spiritual center beyond religion
what is a prayer if not an offering from the heart?
i learned about prayer in a religious context where this was a very narrowly defined verb, to pray. and Prayer was associated with an even more narrowly defined subject of a God. i have never wished to belong to a religion, so for a very long time, i simply did not pray. in fact, words like Prayer and God made me feel angry. i was angry at the way that they were being used. i saw how religion removed people from their own sovereignty.
i began to associate having any belief, with a loss of sovereignty.
i began to act as God in my own life- without knowing anything different, i mimicked for myself a God of judgement and control. i shamed myself. i cast myself out of the garden of my own pleasure and promise.
for a very long time i drifted in the liminal space between leaving a belief system that did not serve me, and finding one that did. let’s call this place without a spiritual center 'the spiritual void’. from the spiritual void, other things quickly filled the role of a higher power. romantic attachments, ego identities, and jobs, mostly. i put faith and trust and hope into things that did not deserve it. i devoted myself to them. without a spiritual center at my core, these things left me empty, lonely, and deeply longing for more.
amidst my darkest night of the soul (~early 2021), from the turret of a West Philly apartment, i verbally spoke aloud into a silent winter sky- a prayer. i was horrified.
despite the drama of it all, the prayer itself was something super basic like “God. capital ‘G’. God. i’m here and i need you. please help me.” (a prayer on the first go, without any practice in praying, is going to sound like this.)
i said a prayer when the only thing more terrifying than praying was living another day in the spiritual void.
it was desperate. it was humbling. it was admitting i couldn’t do it. it was me turning around and starting the long walk home.
in the morning when i awoke, i felt lighter, or one big step closer to myself. and i knew in that moment that i was shifting the direction of the labyrinth, turning the spiral back inwards. returning. i remember feeling like i could breathe.
that morning, a surge of creative energy moved through me in a way i had not felt in years. i grabbed my notebooks. i channelled a symbol of three nested circles. i had no idea what it meant. i drew the symbol obsessively. over the next several days, the shape led me to discover the Goddess Inanna. (a story for another newsletter). but this is how she came to me. after a dark night when i asked for God, a symbol delivered through a pen as if she were drawing me a map.
some 20 months later, i am proud to say that i live a daily life infused with prayer. that i pray as i trim the flowers, or watch the birds, or lay treats out for the cat who visits in the yard. that i tend to the mundane as a conduit for engaging the heart in this infused kind of praying.
today i believe so deeply in so much. i still work closely with the Goddess Inanna who reminds me that there was a divinity before religion. a divinity from six thousand years ago that was queer, non-binary, and trans (again, much more to come in future letters).
i spend countless hours lost in a personal devotion to living things. and i place my greatest faith in Time, a Goddess in her own right. i create altars to honor these things.
through this infusion of prayer in my life, i wind inward on the labyrinth, returning to higher self and source consciousness.
so what is a prayer if not an offering from the heart? perhaps it is a map.
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just pausing for this stanza from Mary Oliver’s Peonies which rings in my heart like a prayer always:
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
pretty much everything from Jessica Lanyadoo, but here’s the latest ep of Ghost of a Podcast, where she talks about upcoming astro weather and the placements that lead us to shrink ourselves in relationships.
this 1 hour long sound bowl track??? honestly just throw this on and do some stretching or gardening. you’re welcome.
this fun take on Inanna by Callie Beusman of The Cut, “I Think About This a Lot: A Sumerian Goddess’s Demand to Have Her Vulva Plowed”