The year of the body--Week 41
in which prayer reminds me she is the one redefining prayer--and she's not finished
Friends, soul writers, mystics, and lovers of prayer,
I started redefining prayer in 2018. Mind you, I never asked for that job. Who would say, hey, I think I’ll redefine prayer today. No one. Who knew prayer even needed to be redefined. Not me.
But that’s what happened and continues to happen.
First came “prayer artist” and then came the responsibilities for being a prayer artist.
They were many. Way more than I imagined when I wrote in my journal, “I don’t know what this means and I’m pretty sure it changes everything, but if you want me to be your prayer artist, I will be your prayer artist.” Instantly the first prayer in what turned out to be a whole new genre of prayer as love songs poured out of my hand onto the page.
There’s a lot to be said for not knowing. And saying yes anyway.
There’s real magic in those few tentative footsteps into the unknown. And that first prayer was overflowing with magic. It felt like my small frightened yes was greeted by a massive, “well, then, here you go” YES!
And suddenly I was a prayer artist—whatever that meant. Well, it turns out it means redefining prayer. I didn’t see that coming.
Once it was clear that I was being asked to redefine prayer, I felt a giant duh rising through my throat. Of course I have to redefine prayer. Somebody has to. The definition in the dictionary is god-awful. If prayer were the dull dry directions in the dictionary, no one would want to pray, never mind be a prayer artist.
And so, with trepidation, I said yes to redefining prayer. Although, I confess, there was a part of me that wondered why Sophia couldn’t go pick on someone else. Surely there’s someone out there who knows more about prayer, someone who has a massive platform on which to make this revolutionary announcement. Someone who’s qualified. You know, like a minister or pope or rabbi.
Now, you do know that “why me” is an utterly useless question, don’t you?
It’s one of the 4 useless questions I talk about in Writing Down Your Soul. The 4 are:
- yes or no (sorry, the divine is not interested in being your 8-ball)
- when (wouldn’t we all like to know that, but the divine isn’t going to walk our path for us),
- why me (why not me is more like it)
- what’s wrong with the other guy (I’m ashamed to admit how many years I asked what was wrong with my ex-husband...sigh).
All four are questions we want to ask. Because we long to hear answers that affirm how special we are.
But those questions are a waste of time and will not elicit a meaningful answer. So you might as well skip them and get into the habit of asking big, powerful, juicy, slightly terrifying questions.
So I didn’t waste time whining about my overwhelming task. Well, not much anyway. I got out my heavy OED (the writer’s bible) and turned the pages till I came to pray and prayer in the tee-tiny print. And burst into tears. Sophia was right.
Prayer absolutely positively has to be redefined. The definition in the dictionary reeks with patriarchal control.
Somebody’s got to redefine it. I guess that somebody turned out to be me.
The new definitions came in bits and pieces.
The first one was the easiest. I’d received about a dozen of these new “prayers” that didn’t look like any prayers I’d ever seen. I guess they came closest to looking like poems, but they had the power of prayers. Then, one day I read one aloud and recognized immediately: Oh, these are lyrics! These prayers are love songs in your own delicious intimate sacred marriage between you and your Beloved.
So new definition #1: Prayers are Love Songs
The next one took a bit longer. I had to live with this new genre of prayers for several weeks, noticing how they were affecting me. And then, OH! I see, they are medicine. Sacred medicine. Sacred medicine that cherishes my body, embraces my heart, totally rearranges my mind, and enchants my soul. Medicine!
New definition #2: Prayers are Sacred Medicine
While I was playing with redefining prayer, I was offering prayer intensives on Ho’oponopono with Kahu Lahela Johnson in Hawaii. When Lahela speaks of her elders and guides, you can feel their presence. As I prayed Ho’oponopono each day, I began to feel their presence too. And I realized that prayer is a river filled with everyone who has ever prayed. When I pray, thousands, millions are praying with me. And if that weren’t a big enough AHA, I took it the next step and realized prayer itself is alive. When I pray, I am in a relationship with prayer.
New definition #3: Prayer is a Living Relationship
By the time that third one arrived on my doorstep, I realized I better get some divine guidance. The angels through Margo Mastromarchi gave me this mind-boggling definition of prayer: Prayer is a vibration of love that goes beyond all universes. Got that?
New definition #4: Prayer is a Vibration of Love
The 5th definition came in the shower. I wasn’t even thinking about prayer. But suddenly I heard—although “heard” isn’t exactly accurate, maybe it’s more accurate to say suddenly I “knew”—that prayer is “The Theatre of the Miraculous.”
What? I didn’t know what to make of that at first, but after I did some soul writing about it, I thought it might be the ultimate definition because the theater is a place where we gather as a community, to share an experience that moves us and affects us and we are changed. So, yes, prayer is all that.
And the miraculous part? That’s the best part. After 3 years as a prayer artist, leading or co-leading 22 prayer intensives, I can happily go on the record that prayer is miraculous.
New definition #5: Prayer is the Theatre of the Miraculous
And that’s where I stopped until this week. I’ve talked about these five new definitions of prayer at the beginning of all my intensives.
I almost laughed. I know this definition inside and out. I’ve used those four words to try to explain what I mean when I say “original prayer.” But somehow I failed to see that those words are one of the new definitions. They might even be THE primary definition.
Because prayer—real living prayer—has one foot in pre-history. One foot in the pre-christian, pre-patriarchal worlds where prayer was how we lived.
Prayer wasn’t relegated to a church or temple or mosque. Prayer was life. Prayer was music, was dance, was love-making. Prayer was cooking, planting, eating. Prayer was family, was friends, was community. Prayer was trees, was mountains, was rivers. Prayer was my body, your body, all bodies. Prayer was night. Prayer was day. And somewhere deep in our bones we remember this.
But at the exact same time, that prayer is ancient, it is brand new. In this moment. It comes alive in me. It sings in and through me. It is always fresh, alive, and new.
I needed to be reminded of this because “Forever Ancient/Always New” is the perfect definition of the “new” prayer, Hana I Ka Pono, which is an ancient pre-history, shamanic prayer rising out of the oral tradition in a new form to be a sacred medicine for this moment in time.
New definition #6: Prayer is Forever Ancient—Always New
Hana I Ka Pono opened yesterday, Saturday, October 9. After six Ho’oponopono intensives with Kahu Lahela, I am stunned once more with the magical properties of this most healing tradition of prayer and forgiveness that cleanses our bodies, our energy fields, our homes, our relationships, and our whole world.
If you’d like to join us, I’ll send you the recording of the first gathering as soon as you register.
This Ancient-New prayer is a Love Song, deep Sacred Medicine, a vibrant Relationship with the Hawaiian prayer traditions, a cosmic Vibration of Love, and an astonishing Theatre of the Miraculous.
Hana I Ka Pono meets on 3 Saturdays in October (Oct 9, 16, 23) for 90 minutes from 2-3:30 pm Eastern.
to learning a new prayer that is an ancient prayer in a shamanic culture filled with devotion to prayer