Earlier this month, I declared 2012 my year of prayer. This year, I said, I want to pray more often, more deeply, more intentionally.
As I’ve pondered what this might look like, Eugene Peterson pointed me in a surprising direction. In a different book than the one I quoted last time, he writes of his journey as a writer, of what he calls “heuristic writing:”
It was a way of writing that involved a good deal of listening, looking around, getting acquainted with the neighborhood. Not writing what I knew but writing into what I didn’t know, edging into a mystery…
Writing as a way of entering into language and letting language enter into me, words connecting with words and creating what had previously been inarticulate or unnoticed or hidden.
Writing as a way of paying attention.
Writing as an act of prayer.
Yes and yes and yes.
I’ve long known that I write myself back to faith when doubt or fear assails me and that part of the reason I write is to hold on to the moments of my life, so they won’t slip away so quickly. I’d never thought of these things as prayer. Now I’m beginning to.
And I’m beginning to see, too, that even when I’m not writing with pen and paper or pixels on a screen, I am writing in my mind, capturing the present moment for a little longer when I hold it with gratitude or acceptance or pleas for mercy. Or all three simultaneously.
Sometimes, I can even move beyond the writing in my mind, the trying to capture in words the sights and sounds and smells and emotions of the moment, and I can simply be in it, me, here, now.
This, too, is prayer. It is prayer that prays itself, without consciousness and without self-consciousness. Perhaps it is the best kind of prayer, because it is prayer not just with my heart or my mouth or my mind, but with my whole self because I am wholly here, wholly alive, wholly now.
Or is that holy?