The Intangible Power of Prayer
I recently spent the most blissful weekend as the maid of honor in my best friend's wedding. My sister-friend Nico and her soulmate Dan are that rare couple that currently has many-a-single-lady posting on their respective Facebook walls saying "your wedding made me believe in love again" and other sentiments of the like. While their wedding brought up similar emotions for me, I must say it mostly brought me to gratitude that I have the honor of knowing such a couple. I found myself wondering if my openness to seeing two people so in love is perhaps the very reason why Dan and Nico were placed in my life: I was willing to see something miraculous, and thus I was shown it.
One thing I love the most about Dan and Nico is that they're both incredibly open about their spirituality. From the moment I met both of them, they never hesitated to start praying in front of me when their meal was served. When they asked me if I wanted to participate, I would always say "of course!!!" I loved being part of the ritual, and I felt in that moment that it was giving me the same connection to a higher power that it must have been giving them. This, I assumed, was why they prayed so consistently.
While I've always felt a certain warmth when I'm around them, I never found it in me to carry their mealtime (and many-other-time) prayer ritual over to my own dinner table. The idea of saying grace always had this religious connotation that accompanied it and I could never seem to shake the memories of childhood scarring when asked to bow my head and pray. Something about being around Dan and Nico changed what audible, public prayer looked like for me, but it wasn't until this weekend that I thought to bring the idea home with me in my carry-on.
As I got ready for my first dinner home from the big event tonight, my friend Allison came over to share a meal with me and gush over some recent happenings that have both of us screaming like little girls (okay, I'll tell you what it was: WE'RE GOING TO BE IN THE LIVE AUDIENCE OF OPRAH'S LIFE CLASS. OMG.) Anyways, I took a couple bites and something didn't quite feeling right. Allison was mid-sentence and I cut her off:
"Hey, do you ever say grace?" I asked her.
"Um, yeah," she responded, looking at me with that "how many times has my family had you over for dinner and said grace" look.
"Do you want to say it? I was at Nico's wedding this weekend and her and Dan pray all the time, I kind of want to do that."
"Yeah," she responded. "But do you mind if I get all Episcopalian about it and make the sign of the cross?"
"Not at all," I said,"I'll just do this," and I made the Star of David across mine. We prayed.
"God," she started. "Thank you so much for this day, for our Oprah tickets, you are the best."
"OMG," I added. "We're totally obsessed with you."
"Yes, totally," she added.
I realized what I've always known that while prayer certainly doesn't have to follow a certain schematic (I mean, hello: I tell God I'm obsessed with him for crying out loud), it also doesn't have to be steeped in the trenches of some past memory I've associated with it. By tying all prayer to the whole "God loves you as long as you fill in the blank here" that religion can promote, I miss out on the good stuff about it. I was glad I could leave that part on the tarmac and bring the good stuff home with me.
Prayer comes in all different forms, and it certainly doesn't need to be said out loud to have meaning. I'm of the belief that God hears my prayers even when I don't know I'm praying (I was actually in the office parking garage today thinking 'I need another vacation' and my friend Allison called me to tell me we're going to Chicago to see Oprah.)
So this is a toast to the power of praying before I eat my toast, and to my beautiful friends and now married couple Nico and Dan. May everyone be as lucky as I have been to know such wonderful people, and may I always be as grateful as I am today that I've been willing to show up for all you've had to teach me throughout our years of friendship.