Sunday, September 10, 2017
Praying with Eyes Open
After services and before an afternoon meeting, I am enjoying a little bit of outdoors time on the patio, with a book and some coffee.
I am continuing to read Eugene Peterson's The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction.
Because I still have ordination paperwork and Hearts on Fire board work to do before I can allow myself in-depth writing in other forms, I am not going to go in-depth on other thoughts about "church" last night with Garrison Keillor or even church today, both of which I could probably write a bit about. I still have my 7 year blog post celebration to write too. All of that will need to wait.
A quick word for now.
I just finished Chapter VII, "Praying with Eyes Open" and was introduced to Annie Dillard in that chapter. She sounds like someone I would enjoy reading, so I will check into some of her writings. Peterson mentioned her Pulitzer Prize winning book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (published in 1974), among other writings.
What caught my attention was that Peterson described her as a "mystical theologian" (70) and noted that "she is after bigger game: after meaning, after glory, after God." (71)
She is an "ally in Christian pilgrimage" (72) and "embraces spiritual disciplines in order to deal with a Creator and a creation" (72).
At the end of the chapter Peterson defines kataphatic and apophatic prayer in this way:
"Kataphatic prayer uses icons, symbols, ritual, incense; the creation is the way to the Creator. Apophatic prayer attempts emptiness; the creature distracts from the Creator, and so the mind is systematically emptied of idea, image, sensation until there is only the simplicity of being. Kataphatic prayer is "praying with your eyes open"' apophatic prayer is "praying with your eyes shut." (84)
For me, both prayers are fulfilling and I need both in order to live a balanced prayer life.
As I prayed with my eyes open today, looking at creation, I noticed this snail on the water spout.
Upon further inspection, I found him burrowed deep inside. I don't know if he will make it or not, but I removed him from his perched place, where he was stuck and put him in a place of soil.
Now a wasp has decided to drink deeply of my coffee. I will share. In fact, I will relinquish my coffee to the guest, albeit unwanted.
Whether you pray with your eyes open or closed, make some time for prayer today.
Blessings on your journey,
P.S. Here is a site I look forward to spending some time with later in order to get to know Annie Dillard better-- Annie Dillard Official Site