Of praying in open spaces

I often find myself repelled by the confined spaces of prayer rooms. The carpets are nicely laid, the candles neatly lined, the music lowered to a gentle hum and the cross firmly set, and all through the twilight glow pervades an air of reverence. Many tell me that it is in this sanctuary of quiet that they feel closest to God and there, are most able to reflect on their spiritual selves.

Unfortunately, I feel nothing like that. In fact, my mind drifts wildly, departing from pious collections to a smorgasbord of floundering thoughts. Sometimes I glance about the room, wondering what swirls in the minds of those meditating, or if they are just like me; appearing to be decorously immersed in prayer when they are but hopping across clouds. I simply am not able to settle myself into a spiritual nest. I may stare at the lucent cross but I will feel absolutely tangibly nothing. I may be given an excerpt of the Bible to read but I will traverse its words devoid of intent and appreciation. I may hear the prayerful voice of others but I will meld it into the inconspicuous silence. And hence, the repulsion; not an actively coercive one but a mild, innocuous one born of boredom.

So whenever given the option, I leave to stroll the church. More often than not, it is night time. Hardly a soul wanders the grounds, and I am thus left alone to revel in the solitude. There is always a peaceful rustling of leaves and a warm whispering of the winds that lend a certain magic to the night. And always does it impel me to marvel at the aesthetic hands of God.

I usually circle the chapel before finding rest (for the legs, in case I risk getting misconstrued) in a nice secluded place. And all the time, so curiously, words just seem to emanate from within – words that bridge the void between the physical and the psychical, the temporal and the eternal, between the natural man and God himself. To quite pretentiously and tritely put it, since I can think of no other more precise way of conveying such an emotion, I experience God. There just comes upon me this ineffable peace, much as if all the worldly troubles and torments had, in the presence of God, dwindled into a pinhead of irrelevance.

I don’t think I will ever change in my dispositions. I am far from discontent at being able to find God only in the open vastness of the world; for I should have no reason to be when the company and comfort I am granted is no more diminished than that granted to others. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps finding God in the prayer rooms, just beyond the crucifix or the Holy Sacrament, is an experience entirely different. Perhaps one day I too shall be able to find Him there. But now, He awaits me in the open spaces.


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