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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pray without Ceasing

During Lent, our adult education classes on Sundays and our Lenten devotional classes on Thursdays have been devoted to prayer. Sometimes, the lessons actually stick, such as the idea of praying when I turn on the computer when I get to work in the morning, then praying again when I turn it off. Of course, the way my work computer is acting lately, probably I SHOULD pray for its continued operational well-being. The worksheet also suggests setting up a screen saver with a meaningful Bible verse or enter a password of religious import. The latter I almost certainly WON’T do, only because I’m having trouble keeping track of the eight I’m rotating through as it is.

I’ve also embraced the notion of praying the newspaper, the idea of praying for those who have suffered that I read about, but also for the writer of the story who may have some residual pain over having to convey the bad news. One of the things I’ve been doing in Albany for decades is stopping when I see an emergency vehicle approach an intersection, for thrice I have seen accidents of drivers not yielding, twice at the same corner; I suppose offering up a prayer in that case couldn’t hurt.

The one thing I have embraced, surprisingly, is putting together some beads on a string with a list of things that are important. I was surprised because I suppose that it felt a little papist. (Of course, some Unitarians I used to know probably think the candle that is lit in the beginning of every session to remind us of the presence of Jesus is probably papist.) In any case, one can put together four beads for the four seasons or for the four directions. It could be seven for the days of the week or ten for the Commandments.

Somehow, mine came from a Bible verse that I memorized, WAY back in the day when I used to do that for my Friday night Bible club, which was when I was 10 to 16 years old. The one (or technically, ones) that popped out: Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." That’s the King James Version. The New International Version might make more linguistic sense: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." However, I remember it in the KJ version, so that’s what I use, moving a bead with each of the nine words starting with love.

I think that perhaps the seeming rigidity of organized religion has rendered certain activities void of meaning for many people. To that I say, start your own ritual with whatever is meaningful for you.
My church choir is performing the Duruflé Requiem Good Friday, March 21, 2008.


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