Wednesday, August 31, 2011


During Oprah's final monologue on the Oprah Show she deviated from her prepared talk and mentioned God and His importance in her life and to her success.

She did so with a wry grin and immediately acknowledged , "I know, I know, there's going to be people that get their back's up because I mentioned God. Oooohhh, not God, don't bring God into it."

And she is right. Mainstream society doesn't want to hear it; it's almost taboo. Don't bring up God or prayer at work, you'll be labeled a freak or a Bible thumper. Don't bring up God at your PTA meeting or you will be given strange looks as other parents move away from you as if they may become infected with religiosity. In some situations people will even become angered if the subject is brought up.

It seems that for many people  God and prayer is only acceptable in church, synagogue or temple, weddings and funerals, or when one is experiencing moments of profound misery so great that it causes an involuntary outcry for mercy. And yet, there are multitudes of people who have a personal, spiritual relationship.with God that they maintain and deepen through an active and meaningful practice of prayer.

Recently I borrowed a book called, TALKING TO GOD: Portrait of a World at Prayer (2006, Stone Creek Publications) and the truth of this was brought home to my soul in a most profound manner. I believe in God and I converse with Him on a daily basis, but I am one of those people who hedge their bets in public in order to avoid controversy. I skirt around the God issue in conversation or with my pen  and keyboard as if He were taboo. I refer to God as the Universe, or the One, or the Source, or the Absolute  -- not an outright denial, but certainly couched in terminology that I think would be more acceptable to others who do not think of God on a daily basis, and to whom the practice of prayer would seem alien. And I wonder in my inner space what God thinks of this. It certainly is a bit stand-offish. If my son or daughters were to refer to me as "that woman of my origin" or "she who raised me" instead of Mom, I would be hurt and offended.

The fifteen essays that are gathered together in TALKING TO GOD contain wisdom and spiritual knowledge. Of the six prayers sandwiched in between the essays, I was only familiar with one -- the other five were beautiful prose offering praise and glory to God that filled my cup and my soul to overflowing. And accompanying the text are vibrant, beautiful, soulful photographs that display the worship, prayers and faith of all the world's major religions. Uplifting and enlightening, the book is a blessing. Here is a selection of the inspiring quotes, blessings and prayers from its' pages:

He who is in the sun,
and in the fire,
and in the heart of man
is One.
He who knows this
is one with the One.

The Upanishads

Photographic Credit:  Mark Downey - Lowell Thomas Award for Photography
In Nara, Japan a man stops to offer prayer outside  the Todai Temple

God's answers
are wiser
than our prayers.


Photographic Credit: Richard Nowitz - 1996 Travel Photography Award
Russian Orthodox Nuns, Easter Celebration in Jerusalem

Prayer does not change God
but it changes he who prays.

Photographic Credit: Alison Wright -- Freelance, 1993 Dorothea Lange Award
Prayer bridges the generations. Tibetan Buddhist's at Sarnath, India

Beauty is before me
And Beauty is behind me
Above and below me
Hovers the Beautiful
I am surrounded by it!
I am immersed in it!
In my youth I am aware of it..
And in old age I shall walk quietly
The Beautiful trail.

Navajo Blessing Way

Photographic Credit: Stephen Trimble - Ansel Adams Award for Photography
An Apache Sunrise Ceremony Initiate - covered in cornmeal and earth
Honouring the Elements

The world is holy.
We are holy.
Daily prayers are delivered on
The lips of breaking waves,
The whisperings of grasses,
The shimmering of leaves.

Terry Tempest Williams

Photographic Credit: Louise Gubb - Images of  the Apartheid Struggle
Mass at Christ King Cathedral, Johannesburg, South Africa

Oh God, help us in this darkened period of human history to remember once again who we are and what the purpose of our existence is here on earth. We have become usurpers of the human state, parading as human beings without full awareness of what it really means to be human. Rather than being a channel of Thy grace for Thy creation, we have decimated the harmony of life on earth, pushing many of the species (including ours) to the verge of extinction.

Oh God, awaken us at the begining of this new era from the dream of negligence and help us to fulfill our responsibilities as representatives of Thy sovereignty here on earth with essential duties toward each other and toward the whole of creation. Help us to remember our true nature, to recall whence we came and wither we shall go. Aid us in the journey of life to do Thy will and to act as the bridge between Heaven and earth, thus fulfilling the role for which Thou didst create us. Shower Thy grace upon us to be a beacon of light rather than a dark cloud for the ambience that surrounds us. Only with Thy aid can we create the peace within and harmony with the outer environment, both natural and social, for which our souls yearn. Only awareness of Thy oneness can prevent us from idolatry and dispersive multiplicity that destroy all that our inner being seeks. We pray Thee to help us remain true to our inner selves, to that primordial nature which we still carry in the deep recesses of our souls.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr

The holiest Name in the world,
the name of the Creator
Is the sound of your own breathing

Lawrence Kushner

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