I like to set aside some time every day to pray, usually in the time after I wake up. Most mornings, this looks like doing Centering Prayer for 20 minutes, reciting a few favorite prayers, sitting quietly and starting a conversation with God, or all the above. I am an eclectic prayer.
When I free-form pray, I like to use my imagination and invoke a feeling of God’s presence. If I’m saying a prayer for someone or myself, I might hold their image and visualize them surrounded by this God presence, this “light.” I imagine our hearts being connected. Other times, I might close my eyes and breathe deeply into my gut and imagine peace, presence, light, breath, and cleansing going into that space.
Sometimes though, I want a face. Who is it that I am praying to? Who is listening? Who is extending to me solace and comfort? Who is whispering in my ear that it is OK, that I am OK, and that all will be well?
Sometimes I imagine a masculine God, first known to me in my childhood. The feeling of this God is mighty, vast, and cosmic. Often when praying to this presence, I imagine myself turning over my shortcomings. As we say in the Catholic Mass, “God, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” I humbly ask for the bad parts to be taken away and for the good parts to be built up. It is like a wash of humility. I pray for forgiveness, peace, relief from pain, or resolution from fear. As I pray, I seek a purifying feeling–to feel clean and whole.
The feeling is different when I pray to a feminine force. I imagine an all knowing, very powerful earth mother figure. Sometimes I imagine my grandmother’s great great-grandmother‘s great great-grandmother: a matrilineal ancestor from another time. With her, I feel she sees me. She recognizes and understands who I am. With her it’s not a purifying or humbling experience that characterizes this interaction. It’s a confidence that she imparts to me. “You can do it!” I feel her whisper, “I have confidence in you.”
In the spirit of all our mothers and their mother’s mothers, may you hear these words in your own heart: You can do it! I have confidence in you.
Anne was a participant of the 2020-2021 Girl child reading journey. She lives in Brooklyn, and she is a member of The Oratory Church of St. Boniface. She works as a lactation consultant to support women who want to breastfeed their babies.