Today’s entry is actually one long question—a personal one, something along the line of “Does this ever happen to you?” What follows is one of those wonderings, this time about prayer.
Sometimes when I am alone with my thoughts—writing late at night; driving out in the countryside; reading e-mail, a book or journal or just sitting and thinking—I find my thoughts suddenly frozen in time and place. It’s like my brain and soul can’t get around the mental logjam created by current events—usually something much bigger than here-and-now. (For example, gratitude for my older adulthood, the horrors of the Ukraine war; spreading hate and anger; the speed of climate change; love of family or the proliferation of lying politicians.) My body and mind don’t move, giving me just enough time to realize that further consideration could be too profound to fit into my mind. Words don’t come easily. My usual ways of praying seem out of reach, perhaps even inappropriate for what’s happening.
After what seems like a long time—but is probably only an instant—my attention moves elsewhere and those moments are gone.
I’ve wondered whether these experiences are another kind of prayer. Whether they’re part of what the Holy Spirit does, “interceding for us with *sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8: 26ff) Perhaps this experience temporarily supplants other kinds of prayer or meditation. Maybe this momentary immobilizing makes possible what’s been waiting for just the right moment to come forth.
One other thought: As part of God’s creative acts, the Spirit “**brooded over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2 KJV) The Spirit, who would later groan on our behalf, swept over chaos with creative energy. Perhaps brooding and groaning are interrelated? Perhaps our Spirit-mimicking prayer-groans may be part of God’s continuing creative work? Or perhaps it’s perfectly okay to greet turmoil or wonder with creative sighing.
With prayerful brooding and groaning….
*The King James Version renders this as the Spirit’s “groaning”.)
** Later translations use “moved” or “swept”, but I like the mood that “brood” suggests: Intensive thought with an eye towards action.
(To receive these entries when they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three dots or parallel lines. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)