It’s been over a month now since schools closed here, since my husband started teaching from home, since play-dates and book clubs and ballet classes ended, and since I started planning my grocery lists down to every detail days before I planned to go shopping. Things have settled in, but the shift in routine has affected more than just our schedules. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been finding prayer alternately easier and much more difficult over the last month. (Maybe that’s not so different from my pre-quarantine life, actually!)
I just finished reading Julian of Norwich’s, Revelations of Divine Love, and the 14th century mystic has a few things to say about dryness in prayer that I’ve found helpful. (Also, she was an anchorite, so I feel like she is a wonderful patroness, as we are all more rooted to our homes right now!) After a long day of homeschooling, and Zoom meetings, and trying not to spend too much time reading the news, it’s easy for me to sit down to my prayer time in the evening and not feel like talking, much less listening, to God. But Julian encourages us in Spearing’s translation:
For this is what [God] says: ‘Pray earnestly even though you do not feel like praying, for it is helping you even if you do not feel it doing you good, even if you see nothing, yes, even if you think you cannot pray; for in dryness and in barrenness, in sickness and weakness, then your prayers give me great pleasure, even if you feel that they are hardly pleasing to you at all. And it is so in my sight with all your trustful prayers.’
Just the act of sitting down and trying to be still with God for a few minutes is pleasing to him. What a relief! I don’t have to perform; I don’t have to be perfect; I just have to show up. For “he wants to be seen and he wants to be sought; he wants to be waited for, and he wants to be trusted.”
I guess it’s like one of your kids coming to hug you for no reason, except that you’re there and they love you. It’s not a huge act—they didn’t bake you a cake or buy you flowers—but think of how much joy a spontaneous hug brings! This is what God asks of us; take that moment to give him your time, your self.
In the midst of all the challenges and all the beautiful moments these strange times are bringing, let’s make sure we are showing up for prayer. Take those spontaneous moments, but also, schedule God in. I had to make a schedule for whatever Zoom classes are meeting when. Prayer is on the schedule, too. God is here for us in all our chaos; let’s make sure we’re taking the time to let him know we’re waiting on him, too.
Julian of Norwich, pray for us!