Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Fresh Takes on the Lord's Prayer

Early morning fog on the Ganges, January 1983.

Sitting in a literal fog out on our deck, reading of Darwin’s investigations into the propagation of flowers which attract different pollinating insects by using different colors or scents or shapes, somehow gave me fresh takes on the bits of the Lord’s Prayer, with which I concluded my morning prayer time.

The literal fog is still outside my windows, but the words I am writing now are coming out of a metaphorical fog of uncertainty and unclarity. I feel rather like Pooh trying to think really hard. Forgive me if you consider this exercise sophomoric, the blather of “a wise fool.”

“O God, mother and father of us all” (my modification of the prayer) now flashes as a primordial, unknowable kindling of life eons ago which we have colloquialized and anthropomorphized as “father” or “mother and father” to make our origin familiar and friendly and immediate.

“Who art in heaven” reinforces this unknowability both spatially and temporally. Heaven is a kind of heavy fog that neither lifts nor is penetrable, as inscrutable as a Zen koan.

“Hallowed”—but it is a sacred space, to be revered and remembered—“be thy name”—even if unnamable and unknowable.

“Thy kingdom come” has been a seeming eternity in the making, and will be a seeming eternity in the becoming, yet is instantly in our hearts as we believe it.

“Thy will be done” suggests agency and purpose, something (to me) more knowable than origins as we witness life and love, compassion and consciousness as pinnacles of experience.

“In earth / on earth” from the atom to the cosmos, from the cell to civilization, a driving and unstoppable force unites us. The Big Bang is still banging, like the reverberations of a Tibetan singing bowl.

“As it is in heaven”—not Plato’s realm of ideals, more like “harmonizing with the ultimately real” or true, the Tao (the way) as understood by Kung Tzu (Confucius), the way of life that gives “visible expression of the ultimate reality hidden in the universe.” (Merton quotes.)

“Give us this day our daily bread.” In the midst of this cosmic enterprise, we still need bread, and art, and wisdom.

“Forgive us our trespasses” when we overlook the larger picture or step on another’s property, holdings, or dignity.

“As we forgive those who trespass against us.” Help us let go of our sense of personal ownership of what we have been given, and share its grace.

“Lead us not into temptation.” Never for a second think we are not part of some cosmic dream that calls us to recognize our worth, the value of our time, and our call to add worth and act worthily.

“But deliver us from evil.” Save us from willful ignorance and from the “unquestioned self” in ourselves and in others, including our institutions.

“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.” Not mine, but ours to share, in memory and in hope of the greater good.

Where is God? you might ask. Why, in all of this, of course!



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Copyright © 2018 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved. Photo from a religious studies tour of India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

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