Tag Archives: Prayer

Prayer

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Prayer Rock by Laura Baker

Prayer has never come easy for me.  I avoid it, put it off, wander in my thoughts, cut it short.  Yet, I pray every day, because I have been told to, all my life.  It’s what I should do, they said.  I also pray because I want to believe that someone is listening and caring and responding.  But really I pray because I cannot deny a subtle, loving presence that abides and sustains when I am prayerful.  Prayerful through formal kneeling prayers as well as daily mindfulness.

For a family activity, we had each child choose a special rock from our faux riverbed, a rock to paint.  Laura (now 20) painted this rock when she was a young girl.  She gave it to me: a present for dad.  I keep it on my nightstand where I see it every morning and every night.  I call it my prayer rock.  I reminds me to bend my knee and bow my head, in humility, in gratitude, in desperate supplication, in recognition of the divine.

I offer to you two short poems on prayer.  Fitful, imperfect, but sincere prayer.

YES, I PRAY

Do you pray morning and night? they asked.

I wondered, Do I?

I pray all the day long.
My life is a prayer.
Living is a prayer–
a sacred expression of dreams, frustrations, loves, and straining efforts;
a reaching out to the One who can reveal the mysteries hidden deep within;
a cry of faith and despair, of struggle and the hope of victory;
an ever truer reconciliation of heaven and earth.

Yes, I pray.

ENDURING

Father–
I am here, and
I am listening.

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Speak, Spirit

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Snow Canyon called to me.  I could not wait to finish my law classes in nearby St. George and head into the canyon for an evening hike.  I chose the Hidden Pinyon Trail, a popular trail over and through twisting redrock slots and boulders, past blooming prickly pear cactus, Mormon tea plants, black brush, and flowering yucca.  I felt lonely and disconnected in my relationships, wondering who I was and questioning about god and life.  Arriving at a ridge line 300 above the canyon floor, I sat cross-legged on a patina-stained ledge, raised my staff with both arms to heaven, and called upon the universe for answers.  This poem attempts to convey the experience that followed.  The photograph above is a Utah Agave plant with its bloom growing seven feet tall in Snow Canyon.

SPEAK SPIRIT

Great Spirit,
Father of earth and sky—
manifest Thyself unto me.

Spirit Son,
Child of earth and sky—
see my writing in the rock,
in the swirling veins of cemented sandstone,
in the lichens’ greens and grays.
Hear my voice in the warbles and trills of song birds,
in the lonely quail call.
Smell my wisdom in the breeze-born sage
after desert’s summer shower.
Taste my nature in the pure water
pooled in pocks etched in stone over a million years
by grinding wind and splintering ice.
Touch my mind as you touch with whisper touch
the stunning, delicate cactus bloom,
as you cause the fine red sand to sift through wondering fingers.
Feel my heart as you cry
and reach for the sky
at sunset.

House of Offering

Ancient peoples walked and farmed and hunted on this land that we now call Erda.  They fled to the desert wastes ages ago, making way for my ancestors to farm the fertile fields.  But Harvey’s property possessed a connection to the ancient traditions.  And he invited me to a part of that connection for a moment.  Inside the turtle lodge, we left the world behind, left our carnality outside, and sought the Divine Presence through prayer, heat, song, privation, and the smoke offering of the peace pipe.  (See Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog, Chapter 7: Turtle Lodge post, for a full discussion of the turtle lodge sweat ceremony.)

HOUSE OF OFFERING

The rocks glow,
like a cluster of orange suns,
shimmering in ferrous shadows
with pulsing heat
in the mid-day darkness
of the stick-framed, skin-clad lodge,
the turtle:
House of sweat,
House of cleansing,
House of song.
Sing of the weathered ancients!
Sing of the laughing children!
Sing of the beasts and the rivers, the woods and the wind!
In this dark other-world:
House of hope,
House of healing,
House of dreams.
Dream of the grisly bear and the bison!
Dream of feathers flying and eyes!
Dream of circles and fire and roads to choose!
Sprinkle now the water,
fill the house with steam,
and breathe,
and sweat,
and renew the chanted song.
Ascend now the burning bark,
fill the house with smoke
pulled from this pipe
and offered up from this
House of prayer,
House of offering, to the
House of God.

 

Chapter 7: Turtle Lodge

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How can we get closer to God?
In airplanes . . . and helicopters! Vvrroooom!
(Caleb-3 to Dad)

Harvey’s property was special to the Indians.  They needed a place to perform their ceremonies, where it was quiet, where animals and nature were close, and where Indians were welcome.  Harvey’s place fit the requirements.  The Skull Valley Band of the Goshute Indians had established Harvey’s land as an official Indian worship site.  Local Indians of several tribes set up a turtle lodge and held their sacred sweat ceremonies there.  Harvey invited me repeatedly to attend a ceremony.  Resisting what I didn’t understand, I politely put him off.  One Saturday, though, I reluctantly agreed, admittedly nervous to attend.   When I came home several hours later, the children found me exhausted, my hair sweaty and matted.  I took a big drink and a shower, then flopped down on the couch.  They begged me to tell them all about the Indians and their turtle lodge.  I sighed wearily, then told them of my experience with the sweat ceremony. Continue reading