“I’ll pray for you.”
The words tumbled from my mouth before I could think about what they meant.
He said: “You pray?”
It was as much of a shock to me as it was to him.
“Sure,” I said, out loud. Wait. You do? I said, in my mind.
He sighed, worry etched into his brow, which was understandable, given his circumstance. Circumstance that isn’t mine to talk about, but understandable all the same.
“I don’t know if I could do that,” he said. “It feels wrong. I can’t go to him now, because I need something. I can’t introduce myself for a favour.”
Opia: the ambiguous intensity of looking somebody in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
I didn’t know it was true until after, but I meant it as much as I’ve ever meant anything. I’d been waiting quite some time, I realised, to have the chance to say, uninterrupted and heartfelt and full of every hurt and pain and hope the years have gifted me and punished me with and made of me:
Oh boy, don’t over think it. You’re talking to that guy all the livelong day. You’re Italian! I’ve seen divinity in the way you prepare squid for your favourite pasta. There’s something bigger than you in the way you focus when you run. When you go all that way with nothing but the sound of your own footsteps for miles and miles and miles. That meditation. That connection with something higher than yourself that says: keep on. Slow dancing at the wedding, arms around her, eyes closed. That was holiness. Sanctity. He was there – something was there – when you held her hand because words couldn’t fill the space of her grief. When you came inside her and said, “I love you” before you fell asleep. That’s all him. That’s all God.
Rubatosis: the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
Devotion. Devotion in the grandest declarations to the smallest, tiniest, daily things. The candle at dinner. Billie Holiday. How good that cold beer feels, sat out there in the low autumn light. Sleeping beside him.
Scoring a goal. Getting it right, first time. Picking yourself back up to try again, and again after that.
Devotion is prayer. Prayer is devotion. When we finally decide to speak up and say hi, it’s been a long time coming. It isn’t so much talking to “God” as talking to love itself. Prayer is having a conversation with you, I think. Conversing with love. Knowing that you had it in you all along.
So sure, I pray.
: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
I didn’t “find God”. That’s not what I’m saying. Though – if I did, that wouldn’t be so bad. If all we want is to be seen, and to be heard, it wouldn’t be terrible if I chose God to be seen and heard by. I’m curious, I guess, about what could be bigger than me. Because. Because I’m doing a pretty good job of getting to grips with my light and my dark and the bright, burning force inside that says, press on, wee one. Press on. But that force? The one that sits a hand span above my belly button, almost between my breasts? It whispers that there is more. That I'm missing the point.
I want to receive something bigger than my questions, from a source better, higher, purer than me.
I want answers bigger than my request.
I want to soften, to love, to surrender, just a little bit more. Stop goddamn worrying so much. Cease kicking against a self-made tide. Release my resistance.
: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.
It happens every time I come home, to stay at my parents, be it for a weekend or a month. The world shrinks, and all that matters in goodness. Lovingness. A reminder of what devotion truly is.
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you, says the Gospel of Thomas.
Softness. Softness will save me.
Crack me open, God.
Give me the courage to stay that way. Cracked, and okay with it.
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