Prayer: the bridge between longing and belonging
This is my favourite quote from John Odonohue and I have hardly ever really meditated on it is such but it has been on my mind several times this week.
In the summerhouse I am sheltered from the strong wind that is sweeping over the garden. It is 10.45 pm and the sky has just got dark though it hardly feels like summer. I’m wearing a padded shirt and a warm coat. I love the sound of the wind, possibly because it is a natural sound and it masks most of the man-made noises that seem to dominate living in a town.
A bridge spans two places and is a form of connection between them. Things may or may not traverse the bridge in either direction. Longing is looking at our desires - our wants wishes, needs, expectations etc. It is about the future. It is about us wishing to change or to understand that which we cannot control or know nothing about. Longing takes us from the present and our memories of the past and seeks to bring the future closer to us. We seek knowledge, answers and more enhanced awareness of what might happen to us. It is about relief from the present - the place we are in, the thoughts we are having, the pain we are in, the problems we face etc.
Belonging is the place where we find our home. It is where we expect to be in a better place of health, security, knowledge and understanding. A sacrifice might be involved in getting to that place.
In prayer, we build a spiritual bridge through the use of words, thoughts, images or music etc that takes hold of what we long for and tries to form a connection with our desire to be in a place of belonging. We feel we are unable to do this work alone because what we desire is often not a matter of a simple physical task but it involves connections between unknown, psychological and temporal things. It is greater than our ability to do. We have to transform ourselves or be transformed into pray-ers that can begin to do something other-worldly.