You’re too restless. Your’e like a hornet in a bottle. But I believe you have the spirit of prayer.
I wish I had a nickel for every half-baked idea, every book I intended to write, every conversation I imagined having – but forgot. My wife Miska sniggers at my forgetfulness and my mispronounced (or made-up on the spot) words (friends have dubbed them winnisms). I’m too restless. I take a number of wrong turns. If I wore a clerical collar, most days it would boast a stain of coffee or smudge of salsa.
That hornet and I share a few things. We’re both bumblers.
Of course, I long to live attentive to God; and I could use a bit more order to create space for that to happen. However, I’m coming to see God among the imperfections, not against them. When you bumble, it’s a bit easier to shed pretense, to stop masquerading as God’s power-broker. I mean, who’s kidding who, right? And the words to the bumbler’s prayer come quick and easy: God, help me.
I’m learning that prayers are better prayed from weakness than from strength. Prayers when I’m lost. Prayers when I’m confused. Prayers when I’m despondent or blue. Prayer for a friend, a parishoner, a neighbor. Prayer for my sons I love and my wife I adore – I ache for the three of them, sometimes I fear for them – but what can I do, other than my bumbling best and ask for God’s mercy.
I once heard someone ask Frederick Buechner to describe his prayer life. His one-word answer: meager. Who am I to judge another man’s self-criticism? But — I’ve read too much of the man, heard the holy tremor in his words, seen glory and imagination dance on the pages. By my lights, every syllable is prayer-soaked.
Slowly, I’m coming to believe that every syllable of my life can be prayer-soaked. I can walk, wrong turns and all, in that “spirit of prayer.” Bumble prayerfully on.