Easter – praying with our body.
Contemplative prayer is a term which covers many sorts of prayer but is distinct from prayers of asking for things and thinking prayers, wordy set prayers, liturgical prayer etc. Sometimes it is called “Prayer of the heart” because without words we simply take rest in letting go of everything and just being with God, in his Love, just like a loving couple can be in each others’ arms sleeping together, or like the apostle John reclining, resting his head on Jesus’ chest, or a mother holding her child. I have just come to know how physical prayer can be.
Jara pringosa resting among rosemary.
On Holy Saturday I was mediating on a the story of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb when I began to feel as if my body was praying. I was aware of my own body as if it were very close to other bodies, touching, skin to skin, as if one but each distinct -and, in the empty tomb; sensual, safe and loving but not sexual or even gender related. I was praying through my body – not in my head, or even my heart. The experience is difficult to convey in words but it became a deep, wonderful peace which flowed through my arteries and veins into each cell of my body. These moments of grace are a gift which keep me yearning for more. I have no idea what this was all about – like the Resurrection itself , and like many other Gospel stories which seem highly improbable. Yet now and then, one seems to touch me and make sense in a way I could never have imagined. Prayer can take us to some strange places.
The Spiritual Canticle of John of the Cross.
Later on that day before Easter I listened to the beautiful rendering of the great poem of Love of St. John of the Cross by Amancio Prada. The poem is in Spanish and all the translations I have come across in English don’t uplift me in the same way as the Spanish. Even in Spanish this is another text I don’t understand much but I do know it spoke to me about that experience of praying with the body earlier in the morning.
Amancio Prada has set it to music. Here it is in 4 parts (click on Playlist for parts,2,3 and4):
I’m going to take my body with me now, wherever I go.