It was St. Augustine who said, “A person who sings prays twice.” This is further elaborated on by Phil Fox Rose, below:
Beautiful music itself, is prayer, and when wedded to words of praise the result is a foretaste of the new Earth to come. This can be true whether it is plainchant, choral music or a modern composition (though we all have preferences.)
Phil Fox Rose
There is something about creative expression – no matter what form – that speaks of the other – that which is larger and more than ourselves – connecting us to what I call the divine.
There is a creative wellspring within all of us. To me it is dance, the poetic, prayer, the culinary arts… What do you choose it to be for thee?
Yup, it is Thanksgiving. A day when we give thanks and are filled with gratitude. It marks a year of wonderful things, as well as the not-so-easy things, that have guided me to this exciting point in my life. Here I am spending 4/5 days with wonderful relations. This reminds me of Meister Eckhart – German theologian, philosopher, and mystic – saying, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”
How many of us have reminded little ones, “What do you say?”, when they have someone to thank or something to be thankful for? Sounds simple, right, but as we become adults even just saying “thanks”, conveying your gratitude, can be fraught with difficulties. Then I am reminded about what I read in the “Living Faith Daily Catholic Devotions”. A fifth-grade student blurts out to her teacher, “Sometimes my heart’s words become a song to God. That’s called prayer.”
Prayer is simple if we do not let our human insecurities get in the way of just doing it. Let prayer be what it will be: the lyrics of our heart, or just those two magical words – thank you.
What is meditative prayer if not poetry, a seeking to understand? The first example that comes to mind are the psalms of the Bible – a well known example of poetic prayer. However, it is more than just that. As a creative writer I search for words for the inexpressible, as a person of faith I entertain the unknown. Underlying both is a mystery. There are times that I am seized by something awesome, transforming, soul altering. Then I cannot attribute what I have put down on paper to any particular thought process or mortal inspiration. It is much more than that – as if something – or some being beyond me – used me. I do not understand, but accept the gift of divine inspiration. And whenever a poem forms from words, from fragments? I feel something working through me: a puzzle maker who is the only one who knows what the complete picture will be. When I engage in meditative prayer I also connect with something, or a being beyond me, that I call God. To pray I need to have faith, as there is that which I accept I don’t completely understand.
As in prayer, as in poetry, so in dance, hence my tagline of the dancing poet. There are times that I dance and the person I am dancing with asks what I just did and I helplessly shrug as I say, “I danced”. I have faith that there is something larger at work. The three (prayer, poetry, and dance) interpenetrate my being. To examine or represent only one is to see a small part. To see all and be all three is much more: the sum is greater than the parts.
If you are interested in more there is a Huffington Post article on just poetry and prayer, and a book, ‘A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith,’ co-edited by Katherine Towler and Ilya Kaminsky.
And I leave you with a thought via Asato Ma, an ancient prayer from India that is a song for peace. If poetry and dance and prayer, why not song, why not all creative processes?