Monday, June 27, 2005

El Maniphezteau de Mecca Man Mu, Pt. II

I discovered this poem, by a woman called Ellen Bass, one day when I elected I wanted to pay attention to the Almighty again and I searched for a prayer. I don't know what my conception of the Divine is, and I know for certain that I live with humanist ideals in my heart, insofar as if Allah disproved Itself tomorrow morning, my life would not change, as the opportunity to be kind to others would still be totally extant and as such my life wouldn't lose meaning at all. But I do have some idea that I'd prefer to acknowledge Allah as al-Rahim, the Being from Whose essence flows the things in life that are really amazing, and Which makes me want to get up in the morning and spread smiley, loving vibes everywhere. Whether It actually exists is irrelevant; I still cherish It, whether or not reasoned judgment tells me I'm wrong to. After all, I find It in the hearts and minds of other people, and nothing that comes from those sources deserves to be turned away. This is my hymn.

Pray to whomever you kneel down to: Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross, his suffering face bent to kiss you; Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat. Allah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem. Brahman, the Divine Ground. Tenri-O-no-Mikoto. Waheguru. Ahura Mazda. Adonai. Raise your arms to Mary that she may lay her palm on our brows, to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth, to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper of time before, time now, time ahead- pray. Bow down to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats. Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work, pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus and for everyone riding buses all over the world. If you haven't been on a bus in a long time, climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM, for your latté and croissant, offer your plea. Make your eating and drinking a supplication. Make your slicing of carrots a holy act, each translucent layer of the onion a deeper prayer.

Make the brushing of your hair a prayer, every strand its own voice, singing in the choir on your head. As you wash your face, the water slipping through your fingers, a prayer: Water, softest thing on earth, gentleness that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already a prayer. Skin and open mouths worshipping that skin, the fragile case we are poured into, each caress a season of peace.

If you're hungry, pray. If you're tired. Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day. Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth. Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox, to the video store, let each step be a prayer that we all keep our legs,that we do not blow off anyone else's legs. Or crush their skulls. And if you are riding on a bicycle, a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves, we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure, a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail, or delivering soda or drawing good blood into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.

With each breath in, take in the faith of those who have believed when belief seemed foolish, who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace, feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed that spills onto the earth, another second of peace. Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk. Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child around your VISA card. Gnaw your crust of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter. Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling your prayer through the streets.

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