What if my struggle with daily prayer is because I don’t talk to my parents or sister but two or three weeks apart?
It’s been a few days since I scribbled this down, so I don’t remember what prompted it. But here’s the thing: when you ask, I will tell you I’m part of a very close-knit family. Later you will listen, and I will say that, before we bought symphony tickets together, my sister and I would go for months without necessarily speaking to each other. And by ‘months’ I do mean three to six. Likewise with my parents, particularly with my dad–if I don’t track him down, we don’t converse.
But when we talk, it’s fluid, easy, full of small details, large details, head-things, heart-things. Time is, in some ways, irrelevant to us. (Not in others: if there’s been a long time-gap, the conversation will take multiple hours.) Time isn’t connected to our love and care for each other…time is just chronos. Love stands untouched.
As I’m thinking with you about prayer and relationships and talking, though, I’m also thinking: I couldn’t be married that way. I gave that style what turned out to be a trial run–a nine-month engagement where his and my communication was on weekends, or in the middle of the night when I was sleeping. (For the record, this ‘he’ was not My Sweetie.) I was miserable. A kiss, an ‘I love you,’ a fragment of the day’s context: I need all three of these daily to keep my footing firm. My Sweetie can attest to that…I’ve delivered more than a few cranky diatribes on the topic.
Coming back around to prayer, there are many ways to approach one’s relationship with God. Parent-child mode is woven deeply into the Bible, and as a parent, I’ve found a lot of insight and uncomfortable wisdom here. Friend mode is also common, especially for Jesus’ face in the Trinity. I’ve encountered “friend” more in Ignatian contemplation/imaginative prayer, but it holds great power however one engages it.
But what about as lover?
Considering God-as-lover, I think I’ve been distracted by the “falling in love” rush, the feelings that I expect would overlap with those of conversion. But I’m not converted into Christianity, I’m born-and-raised. I would be forcing something to evoke a cascade of delighted newness into my relationship with God.
On the other hand, I’m happily married now for twenty-three and a half years, which makes twenty-five years of continuous relationship with My Sweetie. So this connection is absolutely not new. He continues to be my dearest friend and lover, and we can still happily be alone together for weeks.
Pushing the analogy further along, I didn’t even fall in love with My Sweetie in the customary way. I always say we backed into it, taking one step into intimacy and then pausing for a while. It makes a funny story, which I’ll save for some other time. Because…
here is a model of “lover” I’ve not paused to consider: the lovers’ quiet intimacy, built of all the days stacked tightly together. Right now it makes an extremely pointed message for myself:
Daily is what grounds me; daily is what sets me free to be my whole self. Surely I will spend daily time with the heart of my heart?