It’s Autumn and in old established suburbs the streets and gardens look like northern hemisphere tourist brochures. I live in Warrandyte among gum trees and there are few European trees shouting Gloria in vivid shades of red, orange and gold. Just young gums displaying tentative new growth and wattles thinking about the golden days ahead.
Summer heatwaves are past and the threat of bushfires is over for another eight months. The clocks have been turned back to ‘normal’ time and, importantly to some of us, it’s footy season, the kind of football played with an oval leather ball.
It must be easier to celebrate the 50 days of Easter when they go hand in hand with trees budding, flowers pushing up through the warming soil and birds busy nest –building. After a long, cold winter it wouldn’t be difficult to capture an Alleluia feeling.
In the northern hemisphere the invitation is to look out, but in the southern states of Australia we don’t have that advantage. Our Easter days suggest it’s time to go inside. I wake to cold mornings, mist drifting through the green of the eucalypts. In the early evening I often light the fire. It doesn’t greatly increase the house temperature but it looks wonderful. The nights are very dark, thick layers of cloud blocking out the starlight, not even a streetlight to send fingers into the deep shadow.
I think Autumn in Australia lends itself to recognising God’s quiet presence in our life. That morning mist is how I sometimes catch a glimpse of who God is, of the relationship between God and me. I see, but I don’t see. Just when I begin to think that I might understand the mystery of who or what is God, it’s gone. The trees might be firmly rooted in the ground but I experience them as shadowy, and that’s a bit like how I see God’s presence in my life.
Autumn, if we let it, can be a prayerful time. Easy to say, but prayer is so very mysterious. Lately I have been doing some research, and a bit of soul searching too, about prayer – what exactly do I mean by it. I decided to list some of my beliefs about this God relationship we call prayer.
I believe that prayer is a descriptor for inner experience. (MT 6:16)
I believe that prayer is a mish-mash of approaches and practices.
I believe that prayer cannot be disconnected from where/ who/ how one is.
I believe that prayer is a mixture of words and silence and that both are to be valued.
I believe that we outgrow most forms of childhood prayer.
I believe that much that has been written about prayer is difficult to integrate into my life because it comes from the perspective and lifestyle of vowed religious, male and female.
I believe that women’s spirituality and prayer is expressed differently to that of men.
I believe that adult relationships have a lot in common with prayer.
What are some of your beliefs about prayer?