Getting Out of My Prayer Box

boxMy best professor in social work school broke down the dichotomy between vertical and horizontal spirituality.  In the vertical, we look to the heavens and wait for an AHA moment to come down upon us.  In the horizontal, the person across from us shares a connection.  We understand each other on a vital level, and we feel the holy sits between us.  My best coffee dates are the ones infused with horizontal spirituality.  But do I really know how to provide space for the vertical with my students?

I’ve always had a theory that Jews aren’t good at praying & I’m guessing we have good company in some other faith communities.  I hear it all the time from GW students, not in what is affirmed but in what is denied.

“I hate Rosh Hashanah services.  I don’t know what THEY are saying.”

“I don’t go to services on Shabbat because I’m not good at Hebrew.”

In my mind, hating services and not learning a language feel quite disconnected from the real idea of PRAYING.  The Judaism I grew up with handed prayer boxes over to its’ youth; in the box was stale liturgy and frontal speeches that spoke to the head more than the heart.  I’ve seen with college students that you either become a seeker and hope to find meaning in the box, stay in the box and say prayers out of obligation, or you throw the box out altogether because it feels so far removed from anything remotely meaningful.  What would it mean to get out of the box but still aim to pray?

I bumped into my friend George from the MSSC in Kogan Plaza last week.  He invited me to Morning Glory, a new initiative he’s launching with a simple concept: let’s get together and pray, every Monday morning, with no faith-based agenda other than to look towards a being higher than ourselves.  So on a snowy morning yesterday, I went.  I stood with 6 people, only 2 of which I know.  For no more than 10 minutes, we held hands, we asked for what we needed from above, we closed our eyes, and when I opened them, I felt tears in my eyes and saw the same tears in the woman next to me.  Why do I go to synagogue every week yet rarely have such a profound spiritual experience?  Why does the Jewish community do so many things well but still hasn’t quite figured out how to REALLY, TRULY, DEEPLY pray?

How can you make prayer a regular part of your life, getting outside of your own personal prayer box?

(And I’d LOVE to see you at the next Morning Glory, every Monday at 9am – MSSC, 2nd Floor!)

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