The past couple of weeks have been laden with a deep sense of change. Loss. Struggle. Conflict. Beauty. Alienation. Death. Misunderstanding. Illness. Insecurity. And a slew of powerful dreams – including one in which I heard a torrential downpour, waking up to the near-certainty of flooded ground outside.. only to find parched earth outside my window instead.
In the wake of these undulating emotions, I craved peace. I found it through prayer.
Not in the conventional sense, mind you.
Unlike others around the world, who have been flocking to indoor spaces – to churches, temples, syngagogues, mosques and Mecca; and even unlike the Balinese who almost daily venture to their temples en plein air, I sought refuge in a pool. There, in the shadows of frangipani and coconut palms, banana trees and shrines laden with incense and offerings, I swam (another version of ‘meditation in action’) – and prayed.
I prayed for she who died far too young; for he who was losing faith and agility; for she who lost her way in our friendship; for he who could not take responsibility – and for myself, who was on shifting ground.
Then, I ventured into unsettling territory: the realm of forgiveness – and apology. I reflected on it, wrote about it, doodled around it. Then I read an insightful if not irreverent essay about it. I wondered whether I was practicing forgiveness – or paying lip service.
Not for trivial matters, those that I’d long forgotten about; but those that had taken on a life of their own, larger-than-life, super-grudge size. Those, I acknowledged, were dragging behind me, draped all over me, sewn onto my skin like patches or bruises of permanence. I prayed for dissolution, for the dress of stubbornness to fall by the wayside, for my damaged skin to be cleansed of the weight and discoloration… I prayed for forgiveness to flow.
Mornings, my prayers rose with the sun. Then, in late afternoon, after a day filled with schedule and busy-ness, I’d pray for letting go of residue, for more faith and hope in tomorrow, for accepting what is. And practicing gratitude.
If you only say one prayer in a day, make it “thank you.” – Rumi
Ahhh, ’tis the season of prayer…