Sunday, September 23, 2007
Collecting rocks and rethinking prayer
This afternoon while collecting rocks for the labyrinth with Bro. Clarence, he began wondering outloud about prayer and how prayer works, and then after we filled the wheelbarrel, we stopped for a break and sat on the desert floor and that was when his wondering started to get serious. He said the prayer that Jesus taught us, the Lord's Prayer, seems to him to be the very instructions that if we, those who pray it, did follow, then as Jesus said, the Kingdom of God that is within us would be revealed, or even released. Because Bro. Clarence believes that God is so unknowable, in the sense that our human mind cannot even grasp the tiny bit of nature, or creation, that we find ourselves within, how then can one expect to think of the Creator in ways other than creating in our imagination God in human terms. From the simplistic white-bearded flying man on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel that Michelangelo imagined, to an other dimensional Something that is beyond even our imagination. So the question becomes, is our one-way conversation with God (with the God part of the conversation not words, but unexplained actions that happen?) something other than what we think of as human conversation, that being one speaking and the other listening, then the two switching roles? So Bro. Clarence was contemplating a rather complex idea that includes a blueprint of life (I'm really trying to explain this as well as I can, for I'm afraid sometimes Bro. Clarence gets rather excited in speech and forgets his audience is perhaps not as erudite as he) kind of a pre-Big Bang blueprint, that let escape from singularity all the laws and time and elements that we all now find ourselves trapped within, and in that blueprint was the formula for life and in that formula for life are complexities that we cannot imagine. But being Bro. Clarence, he does imagine, and he imagines that part of the complexity of life is what we call feedback, and as all natural and manmade systems contain this most important component, feedback, that which allows the system to self-correct, with self-correction that which keeps evolution from becoming a willy-nilly sort of chaos, and as he said, that which a toddler uses when learning to eat with a spoon, at first the spoon may drop, or poke the cheek, but each miss is feedback which helps the nerves and muscles to more able follow the minds control, and the jackpot, as Bro. Clarence called it, is getting that applesauce into the mouth. So he imagines prayer as this sort of built-in feedback that doesn't communicate with a white-bearded fellow in the sky, but communicates by the God-created human mind simply doing what it was designed to do, self correcting one's actions. And in the example of the Lord's Prayer, by memorizing it, by repeating it, one is allowing this cycle of feedback to change one's thinking, to change the pattern of one's thoughts, to change oneself from being a creature directed by without, to one directed from within. Prayer shapes freewill.