A Recognition of Need
From the interview:
"Yeah. I do love praying. Like prier from French, “to ask.” And what I love about that word is it doesn’t require belief. It just requires a recognition of need. And I think the recognition of need is something that brings us to a deep, common language about what it means to be human. And if you don’t — if you’re not in the situation where you know need, well, then you’re lucky. But you will be. That won’t last for too long. Need is happening in so many ways, in so many levels, in people and in societies and in communities.
And I suppose I really think that prayer is also not only naming or asking, but just saying hello to what is and trying to be brave, trying to be courageous in that situation and trying to be generous to your own self, also."
The word "hello" is a big word in the book. From the description: "The fourth gospel tells of Jesus arriving in the room where the disciples are gathered, full of fear, on Easter Sunday. He does not chide or admonish; instead he says 'Peace be with you', which, in the Aramaic of his day, was simply a greeting. 'Hello,' he said, welcoming people locked in a room of fear to a place of deep encounter; encounter with themselves, with their fear, with each other and with the incarnate one in their midst."
He goes on to relate that in Papua New Guinea, instead of saying hello, one says upon seeing a friend, "You are here." And the response to that is, "Yes I am." And these two phrases, says Tuama, are "good places to begin something that might be called prayer."
The book is generous and vulnerable, welcoming and wise. Who doesn't deserve to feel at home and sheltered in the here and now? Who doesn't deserve to have their fears quelled with the phrase, peace be with you.
Tuama talks about his years working with groups and how he often asked them this question:
"If, right now, you were to write the story of your life, what would the first sentence be?"
He says, "It's an enjoyable question and the responses are engaging."
He recounts: "Recently, one man who had suffered a bereavement said, 'In the beginning we were four; just after the beginning, we were three.'"
And so that is my challenge for you: to write that sentence. It's one of those easy/not easy questions to answer, but a good one, because it lets you gather up a lot of stuff into the here and now. It's a way of saying hello to where you've been and letting it sit with you exactly where you happen to be. It's a way of saying, peace be with you, to all those selves you've been.
My sentence? Today, it might be:
She loved sitting in forest clearings though she happened to dwell in the city.
They made art together.
How about you? What's your sentence?
(And yes, this is one of those posts where the images have nothing whatever to do with the subject....but I'm willing to embrace a little randomness from time to time...)