Week #7: Get prayer legs
Do we really need so many words of prayer, so many hours of praying? What do they even mean?
Most of us at some time have sat in the pews wondering how to crack open the secrets hidden within this inheritance of words. Or brought our own interpretation to the words. Or offered our own words, or no words at all.
How do you know if people around you are even praying? No one knows what’s going on in another’s mind, even after sitting side-by-side for an entire service! Thoughts wander, even while reading or chanting pages and pages of words. Is this also prayer? Yes!
All these prayers mingle together. Words in Hebrew, Aramaic and the vernacular, spoken or b’lachash (whispered) meet and intertwine with the prayers of those who think they have no prayers, and those who can’t or won’t engage. Those who feel their prayers fall on deaf ears, those who are too heart-broken to speak and those who are too enraged to pray.
What if prayer is really soul-breath that draws out and raises up our deepest, purest intention? After all, what is the ram’s horn without the breath of the blast? Hear the call of this ancient and ever-renewing breath. Reawaken to it’s prayer, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The soul-breath carries the prayer of our hearts to our inner universe, to the one sitting next to us, to the one who doesn’t even know our prayers are for him, and to a community of skeptics and believers. In our glorious diversity, prayer creates a place in the greater whole for each unique voice .
Prayer follows us out of the sanctuary, finding legs through our deeds. Prayer legs lead us to the forgotten and those who cannot remember, the rejected, the isolated, the suffering, the infirm, the dying, the marginalized, the alienated, the abused, and the misunderstood. We begin to see in one another a shared, soul-deep desire for a better world, for a better home-life, for a loving life-partner, for a closer family, for a loyal friend, for meaningful endeavors come to be.
Prayer can break down the most indomitable wall. Soul-breath then slips in to turn regret and remorse into reconciliation and reconnection. Breath and prayer return us to one another.
People with prayer legs can get back on track. Those who speak too much may listen more. And those who have been mute may speak up. And all may work to make what we say and do matter.
Such prayers, aroused by Endless Love, awaken us to the possibility of redemption. They show us a path of sacred obligations. To walk this path means giving legs to our prayers. May each of us step into this new year with compassion, grace, kindness, contrition and forgiveness.
Wishing you and yours an inspiring and invigorating New Year filled with hope and the sweetness of possibility, prosperity and peace. L’shanah tova tikateivu!
Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi (c) 2016