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Prayer Without Words

I was sitting on my porch looking at my front yard. My inner conversation sounded like this. “The yard looks terrible. This Texas heat is taking its toll. I don’t know if it will ever recover. Why is my neighbor’s yard so green and thick? I’ll bet he’s watering more than the allowed one day a week. I’m going to be watching this week to see if I can catch him.”

In that moment, I realized that I was looking at my yard through my lens of judgement and comparison. In fact, I’ve been looking at most of my life that way. It hasn’t made me happy. It’s made me unhappy. Comparison is the thief of joy.

I was reminded of something that I learned from my week with Richard Rohr. He taught me about Both-and thinking andf either-or thinking. Either-or thinking is dualistic and our default mode of thinking. We divide the world into categories and labels. Good/Bad. True/False. Agree/Disagree, etc. Both-and thinking is non-dualistic and requires intentional effort but yields great rewards. Both-and thinking leads us into contemplation which is prayer without words. In contemplation, we sit with God, or whatever you perceive a higher power to be, like an old friend with whom you can sit comfortably together without talking or asking for anything. In contemplation, we look at things as they are, not as we think they should be. In contemplation, we’re in the present moment without asking for anything or wanting anything.

As I practiced this lesson from Richard Rohr, I experienced another lesson that he taught me. God, or whatever you perceive a higher power to be, is not “out there.” God is in here. God is in me. Or, maybe I’m in God. As I sat there in contemplation, I experienced the feeling that God was all around me, even in the molecules of air I was breathing. I was immersed in God and God was immersed in me.

I’m trying to spend more time in contemplation and less time in judgement and comparison. I’m not going to worry about whether my neighbor is breaking the water restriction rules. I think I’ll tell him how much I admire his yard and ask for some advice on lawn care.

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Pat Whitty

Pat Whitty

Life Transition Coach

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