Archive for January 2015

Chambers of Prayer

January 23, 2015

I’m one of those people who believes in the power of prayer. “Prayer” is an interesting concept, meaning different things to different people — and taking different forms. For the most part, I’m not a formal pray-er, nor even someone who prays with words. I certainly don’t want to be telling God what to do. I’m more of an “attitude of prayer” pray-er. I can’t even say meditative. More like contemplative, or maybe I should say ruminating.

There are two definitions of ruminating: one is disciplined thinking and caring about something; the other is when an animal like a cow has already eaten something but not digested it, so she brings it up from one of her two* four stomachs to chew it more. From a chamber with one purpose to prepare it for a chamber with a different purpose. Prayer as sitting outside in the sunshine, “chewing something over” to make it more functional, while at the same time mulling, caring.

I also frequently say that I hold someone in my heart as a form of prayer. We talk about our hearts as our emotional centers, but that’s just a metaphor. In physical truth, our hearts are four-chambered organs vital to our existence. But I say it because it has shared meaning — not something I need to explain.

But this is the one I like most. Prayer as the chambered nautilus.

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A newly hatched nautilus wears a shell divided into four small chambers. As a nautilus grows, it gains more living space by building new chambers connected to the old ones; adult shells have 30 chambers (from the Monterey Bay Aquarium website).

Here we have an ocean-dwelling creature that starts out small, with four chambers (like the human heart), but as it matures, it grows more and more of these beautiful, pearlescent chambers — separate, yet interconnected — as many as needed. A wonderful image to visualize as my form of prayer.

And so when I say that I hold someone in prayer, this is what I mean.
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* Funny how certain “facts” we’ve known forever end up to be untrue. A friend informed me that cows have four stomachs. Doesn’t change my metaphor, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

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