I've been trying very hard this week to try to find a way to express this sense I have that so much of prayer goes on wordlessly, hidden even from the one praying. Trouble is, how does one write about something like that? I'm reminded of Lao Tzu's remark that "The Tao that can be told of is not the eternal Tao; the name that can be named is not the eternal name."
But the prayer does go on. I find that increasingly I cannot put God out of my mind. Whatever I try and think about, it's God and Jan, God and supper, God and music... Things somehow get tested against his presence, in the oddest way. Even decisions about technical things are not entirely exempt, like the ethics of open-source as opposed to commercially developed software!
More than that, I cannot get away from the pain that I feel, that Maggie Ross so tellingly describes as "the gnawing pain in the pit of your soul that is a resonance of the pain of the human condition..." (In my case, it's as often the pain of the rest of creation, the animals and the plants and the broken and hurting stuff of existence itself.) The only way to deal with such pain, against which I have less and less defence, is to pray. The Jesus Prayer comes more and more naturally, appearing at all sorts of times of the day or night, so that I'm not sure if I suddenly begin to pray, or whether I'm just suddenly aware that I have been praying all along...
Ironically, my set times of prayer have become more difficult: I am more easily distracted, more easily interrupted. I find myself constantly challenged, continually driven back to my rule like someone clinging to a floating spar in a tide race.
More and more I find myself enormously grateful for the Third Order, for the whole community of St. Francis throughout the world, in whichever denomination; religious and secular alike they are my sisters and brothers, the little ones of Jesus. I really don't know what I should do without them!