Friday, March 5, 2010

A Hundred Kinds of Prayer: begun 5 March - posted 14 March

Although I started this some days ago, today has felt like the right time to post.

FROM There Are A Hundred Kinds Of Prayer
Quatrain 81 RUMI

Today, like every day, we are ruined...
Don't open the door of worry...
Take up the lute!

There are a hundred kinds of prayer...
For the one whose prayer-niche is the beauty of the Beloved.

--From "The Rubâ`iyât" of Jalâluddîn Rûmî in the Dîwân-é Kabîr
adapted by Ibrahim Gamard and Ravan Farhadi (simplified by blogger, Connie)

Prayer Wings

Look at the birds. Even flying
is born

out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, open

at either end of day.
The work of wings

was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.

note: This one above is for now by unknown author
until I find him again :)


Different Ways to Pray by Naomi Shihab Nye

There was the method of kneeling,
a fine method, if you lived in a country
where stones were smooth.
The women dreamed wistfully of bleached courtyards,
hidden corners where knee fit rock.
Their prayers were weathered rib bones,
small calcium words uttered in sequence,
as if this shedding of syllables could somehow
fuse them to the sky.

There were the men who had been shepherds so long
they walked like sheep.
Under the olive trees, they raised their arms—
Hear us! We have pain on earth!
We have so much pain there is no place to store it!
But the olives bobbed peacefully
in fragrant buckets of vinegar and thyme.
At night the men ate heartily, flat bread and white cheese,
and were happy in spite of the pain,
because there was also happiness.

Some prized the pilgrimage,
wrapping themselves in new white linen
to ride buses across miles of vacant sand.
When they arrived at Mecca
they would circle the holy places,
on foot, many times,
they would bend to kiss the earth
and return, their lean faces housing mystery.

While for certain cousins and grandmothers
the pilgrimage occurred daily,
lugging water from the spring
or balancing the baskets of grapes.
These were the ones present at births,
humming quietly to perspiring mothers.
The ones stitching intricate needlework into children’s dresses,
forgetting how easily children soil clothes.

There were those who didn’t care about praying.
The young ones. The ones who had been to America.
They told the old ones, you are wasting your time.
Time?—The old ones prayed for the young ones.
They prayed for Allah to mend their brains,
for the twig, the round moon,
to speak suddenly in a commanding tone.

And occasionally there would be one
who did none of this,
the old man Fowzi, for example, Fowzi the fool,
who beat everyone at dominoes,
insisted he spoke with God as he spoke with goats,
and was famous for his laugh.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Different Ways to Pray” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Often, my favorite way to pray is after everyone around me is fast asleep or if I awaken during night. Sometimes I dance with or without gentle music and then pray for certain people who come to mind - sometimes my children - sometimes maybe people much like us who happen to live in another part of the world. This kind of prayer is refreshing and peace-giving to me.

So, I want to close with a prayerful music selection from our friend and wise mentor, Akhtar Wasim Dar Sahib "Perhaps my favourite sufi song" he said, "a very very special song". I imagine this is one I will be using often. Thank You with deep reverent gratitude dear friend!

sung by Pathany Khan in SARAIKI language which is a punjabi dialect - Find here

Why pray for others - even those in a country far away?

"One day you will ask me which is more important? my life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life."
Kahlil Gibran

Finally, I want to add one sustaining practice and one sustaining image from my own tradition: Christian Peacemakers

1) The Apostle Paul sometimes has a "bad rap" yet reportedly, he left two wonderful legacies:
a) To "pray without ceasing"
b) To follow faith, hope and love (yet the GREATEST of these is LOVE) - see 1st Chapter of Corinthians verse 13)

Then, I want to offer also the beautiful agony and act of love as Jesus wept tear drops of blood - asked God his Father that the "cup of his death" be taken from him
expressed sadness that his companion didn't stay awake with him throughout his agonizing night and yet KEPT ON PRAYING


ReeBz said...

beautiful words... full of hope,Thanks Connie for such a nice magical piece..

Connie L. Nash said...

Sometimes like some kinds of music, poetic words can become familiar background even before we understand their intended impact. May these beautiful words become more than just hope and better than just magical to you...

Along with the hundred ways the Divine is able to speak to you...

Do email me if you want a conversation? I will be tied up until this time tomorrow but will try to look for you any way you appear...

I know you're going through a rough time...and want you to know I care and want to know how I might best help?

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

Prayer Wings is phenomenal and so rich in so few words, I think it is not an Anonymous poem perhaps the author is God

Connie L. Nash said...

Dar Sahib,
You would know...

Connie L. Nash said...

Finally was able to dance-pray to this Sufi song and the music, prayerful voice, calming beat and imploring instrumentation all opened my being up to being present in the prayer.

If any one wants to translate even one small repeating phrase for English readers, let me know by email with clear subject heading:

Perhaps others will offer ideas, poems, experiences with prayer? I will start collecting for "More Ways to Pray" post...

Connie L. Nash said...

Dar Sahib or anyone who knows or is Sufi, Plz let me know if anything on this post -
including the Whirling Dervishes in colored garments - is in any way innappropriate?