Monday, September 05, 2005

Playing God 1

I've been away from blogging for a bit. Been working with a staggeringly energetic and talented group of young adults at The Salvation Army School for Music and Gospel Arts at Jackson's Point, Sutton, Ontario. Over the next few posts I want to share some of the things I experienced. I will be writing about prayer and the power of prayer and healing.

A lot of praying of one kind and another went on at this camp. Students prayed scripture in the Jewish manner, all at once and in full voice while circling around the auditorium. Faculty and students prayed, sang, worshipped, praised. Some leapt up and down, danced, did cartwheels and flips. Others drew prayers. Some lay prostrate before God. Others knelt in the traditional pose of worship, heart lower than head and arms outstretched. Hands were an important accompaniment to prayer. Hands raised. Hands clapping. Hands cupped. Hands joined. And feet were important too. Sandled. Sneakered. Feet in need of a good wash. Manicured feet. Whatever their condition, our feet were metaphorically bare, because we were standing on holy ground.

In the midst of all of this, on Wednesday evening, I met the mother of a girl who had been killed years before, in a tragic car accident in connection with the camp. We talked for some time before we found our common ground. My husband's cousin had been critically injured in the fiery crash which took her daughter's life. They had been best friends. I remember how we had received the news in helpless horror and were thrown to our knees. I remember not being able to find the words to pray. And now, twenty-six years later, this mother was eager to hear this year's crop of campers perform at the midweek festival. "It was a long time ago," she said simply.

I remember feeling guilty about not knowing how to pray at the time of the accident. Finally I wrote my feelings down. Now, I felt I was being given permission to pray without words. If one could jump up and down in prayer, march around in prayer, lie down in prayer, then groans, interpreted by God's Spirit, were acceptable prayer. This is what I wrote, somwhat defiantly, at the time of the accident:

I cannot pray with words.
I write with words,
I pray with sighs,
or thoughts
or faces.

Then I cannot be accused
of trying
to make up God's mind for Him
or of colouring prayer
with too much self.

And there are
times too terrible for tears.
A breath and heartbeat
suffice then
to bring Him near.

For P.H. C.K. Aug. 31, 1979

More on this topic to follow.


bobbie said...

beautiful connie - i have a taste of where this is going and i can't wait to read about it all!

it was amazing to experience in the small time i was there, and i am looking forward to hearing about what i missed!

Anonymous said...

I've been checking everyday for you! You have brought back memories for me today. I shared bunk space with Mandy and Pam at Camp Samac - we were friends reunited from Vancouver days. Sang in Singing Company together - sat and wrote notes in church together. A tragedy. Who is Rob's cousin???? Pam? What is the connection? I never knew. Your prayer is appropriate for that moment and for many others....Love, Cathie

steph said...

Connie I look forward to "seeing" more prayer stories.
You mention "bare feet" and I totally understand that. At a recent story workshop, I just had to have bare feet on the floor as each one spoke their story - it was holy and sacred space.
Barefeet on holy ground are also the barefeet required for true freedom arent' they!

Cindy said...

The poem says so much, Connie. Many of my times of wordless prayer have been, I sense, far more powerful than any words I might have tried to inadequately and foolishly cram the prayer into. Thanks for blogging this. Looking forward to hearing more about the camp experiences.

annie said...

Looking forward to hearing more, Connie. I enjoyed the poem as well.

Deb said...

Very beautiful and very true.

daisymarie said...

wow. you left me with tears.

Connie said...

Thank you all for reading and hearing this story and affirming the experience.