Prayer

Prayer

Marie Howe

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here
among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.
The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?
My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.
Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

Many poems are a form of prayer to my ears – giving meaningful words to my own inarticulate longings. Marie Howe has two poems titled Prayer; in this one, she uses the mundane of drugstore and garbage trucks to link us to the sacred in clear language.

Every day I want to speak with you. Whoever you is to you the reader, the listener, your own personal relationship to the divine mystery that is this life.

And every day something more important / calls for my attention —the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage / I need to buy for the trip. / Even now I can hardly sit here /
among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside / already screeching and banging.  The distractions of everyday life, we all have them, only their form varies.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath. / Why do I flee from you? For me it is my own breath that draws me close, those moments when I stop, breathe, do nothing. And in that nothingness, there can be that flicker of panic that says ‘Do something, don’t just sit there.’ What might I meet within myself if I remain still and silent, listening?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints / and become a story I forgot to tell.  What is the story of my life, of your life, that we are forgetting to tell? As Howe says:  ‘writing poetry isn’t saying what I already know but trying to make room for the spaces inside story’.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning / to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.  Help me, one of the simplest, most important prayers I have learned, an admission of my vulnerability, my not knowing it all. How difficult to stay and listen for a response. How necessary.

What are your prayers?

7 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. This really resonates for me right now. Thanks so much. To ask for help and then stay still and listen – so difficult and so necessary. So true.

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  2. How odd it is that we tend to run from the One Who calls us into deepest, warmest intimacy with Life. And yet we do. I love that Marie Howe names this with such honesty and humble longing and truth. It helps me own all that in myself. Thank you, Jan.

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  3. Jan, I really am drawn to this poem – for so many reasons – I’ve read and reread it this morning. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’ll carry it with me…. Lisa

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  4. Jan, thank you so much. The being vulnerable and soft (in both the poem and your lovely comments about it) really resonate with me right now.

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