THE GREATER PRAYER OF BEING
By MARK NEPO
In Quakerism, whatever you believe needs to be grounded in the evidence of your own life. In Quakerism, [there’s an] insistence that everyone has within himself or herself a source of truth—an inner light or inner teacher. Of course, truth is not the only thing we hear from within. We also hear the voices of ego, of fear, of greed, of depression. So Quakerism puts an equal emphasis on the role of community in helping people sort out what they’re hearing.*
This is the greater prayer of being: how we take form and grow where we are,
only to be dissolved into a greater union with the life around us.
Each of us walks about in a cloud of affections: our love, our pain, our desires, our history. Then, we need help from each other to outwait the cloud, so we can regain our direct experience of life. We need to break the trance of what we want or wish for or regret. The task is not to replay what we go through, but to integrate what enters our heart. Not to linger in what might have been or what has fallen short, but to make the most of what’s before us. The challenge is to feel what’s real while it’s real.
And we each need help sorting what we’re hearing. For fear and worry are dark spiders constantly weaving webs in the corners of our mind, till one day we walk into those webs, surprised and entangled. This is why we have to still our mind and open our heart: to clean out the webs of fear and worry. Otherwise, a dark gauze grows between life and us. But love sweeps through the gauze, and honest inquiry sweeps through the cobwebs. So just as we need to dust our home, we need an inner practice to dust our mind of all the webs we spin.
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