Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

11 July 2006

"The Man Upstairs"

The absolute worst line yet: 'Thru clouds of lace you'll see His face.' Come on! But I move on: I sing, and I progress. I open my heart.

I do pray, and I think that's one word that is has not been entirely reclaimed by my spiritual community, non-Judeo-Christians that we are. I am very careful in the way that I define prayer, and how I use it. I am influenced here by meditation practice, but also by Matthew Fox's book 'On Becoming A Musical Mystical Bear'. (I love Matthew Fox, he's my favorite Christian ever, besides my Mom.) I believe that prayer is not so much a speaking, as a being-with-myself-and-All-That-Is. I also don't think that prayer can be very effective as an asking: 'You give me this, please-o-please, and I'll do that.' I do believe in miracles, and I believe that knowing very clearly what I want can help me achieve it in ways that can feel very magickal, indeed. If I ask in a mindful way, I open up the most favorable possibilities for my dream to be realized, but I still need to have my eyes wide open to see the choices that arise.

In my very brief stint, a long time ago, as a born-again Christian, I discovered the beauty of extemporaneous prayer: prayer directly and spontaneously from the heart. It's this type of prayer that can tell you if you'll ever have a career as a preacher, and it's not at all limited to Christian prayer. I'm not against set prayers, though: my friend, Maria gave me a beautiful non-Christian prayer book last year, and we have a lovely book of 'Earth Prayers', and a book of table graces from various cultures. (As a side project, I would love to personally reclaim the idea of the rosary for myself: create my own list of prayers and remembrances tied to a beautiful and portable physical object. Starhawk's book about dying has an article on this process.) Prayer and poetry wonderfully intertwine at certain points, and speaking beautiful or evocative words aloud is always a pleasure.

Prayer is also a community-builder. Personally I saw this when my husband had surgery three years ago; I believe that every denomination that I had the vaguest connection to (an impressive list) had him on their prayer lists of whatever sort. He believed at the time that this was a definite help in his ordeal, and the recovery. For me, it was a great comfort to know that there was some sort of group mind that had him in their kind regard. Prayer is something to do, when there is nothing else to do, and that is not a small thing.


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