My relationship to prayer has shifted drastically over the years.
Coming from an I-think-we’re-religious-because-we-go-to-church family, I never really connected with the concept.
We prayed at the dinner table on special occasions or when the whole extended family gathered for holidays.
These prayers were most often said for gratitude and to recognize the good fortune of our family. They had little to do with my personal relationship with prayer.
Prayer is such a loaded word.
Sometimes it can seem confined to the expectations of an ancient lineage that may feel as distant as it is old—rife with images of pious devotees crouched by the bedside, night-gowned knees uncomfortable on cold hardwood floors, and row upon row of Sunday worshipers bowing in unison towards the east and the Ka’aba of holy Mecca.
In my own time I came to know prayer as an angsty teen—panicking over my latest and greatest heartbreak, sobbing to a God I only thought of on Sundays, and when sh*t really hit the fan.
At that time, prayer was a presumptuous teenager bossing around a scraggly ancient dude in the sky, who was obviously not paying attention to my dire situation.
A couple years ago I found myself in an entirely different type of sobbing mess and turning to prayer. Huddled under the kitchen table for what felt like the hundredth time that month, I kept asking “What is wrong with me?!”
I had been shaken to my core by meeting someone I can only now recognize as a divine appointment meant to jolt me awake. This time though there was no sandal-wearing, no no-shave-November-looking champion staring down from the clouds to whom I felt I could turn. I had long since given up on the images imparted to me from my Children’s Bible.
But here I was, cowering under a table, when I realized I needed faith. In what? I had no idea in that moment. Faith had always been besties with prayer, so reaching in that direction felt like pawing through muddy water—trying to separate out the silt, knowing full well that their coexistence was no mistake.
So as I regained my footing over the following months (and crawled out from under the table), I began to wade into the muddy pool. At some point, somewhere, I heard the the idea that prayer is talking to God; meditation is listening.
And so the conversations began.
I decided it was “The Universe” I would talk to, and “The Universe” I would listen to. I began to realize the conversation continued outside of moments on my meditation pillow, moments I would come to refer to as “Winks from the Universe.” Those fabulous moments of awareness showed that some kind of higher power is at play.
This is the prayer space I have lived in for the past three years. Slowly, I have navigated my way through my relationship to Faith and even come to an oddly comfortable space with the word God.
It wasn’t until recently, while in a moment of quiet connection when all other thoughts ceased, I realized I had been praying to a masculine Universe. There has been an inherent “dude energy” to the one I’ve been in conversation with. And while I cannot tell you how I knew this to be true, the moment the feeling stepped forward, I knew I needed something different.
Months of time and space have been devoted over the past nine months to my reconnecting to Pachamama. Time that has created a new sense of ease and comfort with the Divine Feminine, the Shakti, as I had never known before. Always intimidated and unsure of what a motherly figure in the highest sense could be like, I had avoided her.
But now she feels like home.
My recent travels abroad, where I spent days roaming through a steaming jungle and down winding pathways, surrounded by brilliant green life, and the food we ate at each meal allowed me to almost tangibly feel her presence. Further south I met her again in the heat of the temazcal sweat lodge and around the sacred ceremony fire.
Coming back to the States, she called to me again from the flowers on a hilltop.
I have been in “school” with her ever since.
Most recently, in the stories of The Magdalen. Whisperings of Alchemy, and in unconditional love—Pachamama sits on my altar watching over. I cannot help but wonder if it was her voice that offered the Mother as a new chance for connection and conversation—a new listener of prayers and a voice of Faith.
This practice of prayer is always changing. At least if it is allowed to change— to morph and adapt with our own evolution. We find new ways of connecting with ourselves, and in turn, the one who witnesses may need to change too.
The details of who hardly matter. It is perhaps more a question of do.
Do you feel the peace of something greater? Do you find a way to keep this connection through your shifting life experiences, and can you stay in contact and in communication even when you are not desperate? Can you maintain this connection when you’re able to seek the highest questions, not just absolution from the sobbing?
My prayer is that we all get to have this conversation— this chance to connect.
My prayer is that you know there is a someone, a something, who listens closely and speaks to you in Love without an ounce of judgement. Whether this being presents him/her/itself as the embrace of the great Mother, or as a scraggly-bearded dude riding a cloud is of no consequence.
This is my prayer for all of us.
Author: Emily Jean
Apprentice Editor: Dottie Hollingsworth; Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Author’s Own