Prayer as Attunement
Laurie Gordon of Bend, OR, USA
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:28-31
I asked a friend, a gifted musician, what he listened for when he tuned his guitar. I had watched him perform this critical task several times, but I couldn’t hear the nuances that turn a hollow, out-of-tune, wooden box with strings into a finely-tuned instrument capable of rich, glorious harmonies. He plucked a string and asked me to listen closely-not to the surface of the sound, but for the waveform hidden within the sound as it vibrates. Indeed, there was an ebb and flow inside the note, a subtle oscillation with height, depth, and length peculiar to that particular tone! Then, still sounding the master pitch, he plucked the neighboring string. Listening all the while, he tightened or loosened pegs until the waveforms produced by the two resonating strings came into alignment.
Attunement has become my master metaphor for prayer: prayer is both a listening for the hidden resonance of Holy Mystery quietly sounding beneath the world’s chaos and a tuning of one’s heart and soul to mirror the waveform of Spirit’s song.
Watch for “tuning” practices that come naturally to you. Tuning our lives to the Holy can take many forms and be experienced in all arenas of life; what makes it prayer is attention and intention! Body can pray with movement-yoga mindfully practiced, for instance, or a quiet walk in the woods. Healing can be sought by imaging wholeness, or through the intentional practice of right relationship. Nature is constantly alive with divine mystery. Caring for someone who suffers can be an act of prayer. And, yes, our minds can frame deeply-felt longings with words, and words allow prayer to be shared in community.
For me, prayer begins and ends in deep stillness, “tuning in” to the hidden pulse of Spirit, and allowing God to work God’s work beyond my conscious control.
Attunement prepares the instrument of my life for right action in the world. My hope is that, properly aligned, my life will sound a harmony played to God’s melody line.
“… the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).
Breathing God’s Compassion
Pay attention to your breathing and let it become calmer and deeper as you focus on God’s presence. Ask God to breathe in you. Imagine each breath carrying the light of God into your lungs, bloodstream, and every cell in your body until God’s Spirit fills you. Now imagine breathing out God’s compassion and grace each time you exhale, especially into places and situations in need of loving care. Give thanks to the Spirit, source of every breath, source of life.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.