Descensus Averni Day 5: Prayer

Last night I poured out my heart in prayer to the Goddess.  I’ve been Pagan for seven years, and I have never really prayed like that.  I have offered rote prayers, poetic prayers, but I have never just talked to Her.  I told her that I was uncertain about the purpose of what I was doing.  I told her I was disappointed that I had not had more spiritual fireworks since becoming Pagan.  That I am looking for a transformative experience, not just an aesthetic one.  I told her that I felt lost, that although I saw my goal, but I didn’t know if my practice would lead me there.  I asked her to send me a dream, like she did seven years ago when I dedicated myself to this path.

I didn’t have a dream.  But I did wake up with another one of those flashes I have been having.  They are just disconnected images or ideas that pop into my brain when my mind is still foggy while I am in bed in the morning.  The clarity of the image or idea distinguishes it.  Today, it was actually two thoughts.  The first was that quote from the movie A Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come.”  (Yes, the quote that has been mocked so much it has become a cliche.)  And then, right after that, I thought of Patrick Murfin’s poem, “We Build Temples in the Heart”:

We have seen the great cathedrals,
stone laid upon stone,
carved and cared for
by centuries of certain hands;
seen the slender minarets
soar from dusty streets
to raise the cry of faith
to the One and Only God;
seen the placid pagodas
where gilded Buddhas squat
amid the temple bells and incense.

We have seen the tumbled temples
half-buried in the sands,
choked with verdant tangles,
sunk in corralled seas
old truths toppled and forgotten.
We have even seen the wattled huts,
the sweat lodge hogans,
the wheeled yurts,
and the Ice Age caverns
where unwritten worship
raised its knowing voices.

But here we build temples in our hearts.
Side by side we gather.

We mix the mortar of the scattered dust
of the Holy of Holies
with the sacred water
of the Ganges;
lay Moorish alabaster
on the blocks of Angkor Wat
and rough-hewn Stonehenge slabs;
plumb Doric columns for strength of reason,
square them with stern Protestant planks,
and illuminate all with Chartres’ jeweled windows
and the brilliant lamps of science.

Yes here we build temples in our hearts.
Side by side we come,
scavenging the ages for wisdom,
cobbling together as best we may
the stones of a thousand altars, leveling with doubt,
framing with skepticism,
measuring by logic,
sinking firm foundations in the earth
as we reach for the heavens.

Here we build temples in our hearts
a temple for each heart,
a village of temples,
none shading another,
connected by well-worn paths,
built alike on sacred ground.

I feel like this is exactly what I have been doing: mixing the mortar of the scattered dust of the Holy of Holies with the sacred water of the Ganges, scavenging the ages for wisdom, cobbling together as best I might the stones of a thousand altars, sinking firm foundations in the earth.

It was subtle, but I feel like it was a message from the Goddess.  How do I know it is not just my own thoughts?  Well, She is, after all, inside of me — just as I am inside of Her.  She is my Unconscious, but my Unconscious is bigger than me.

I feel like She is telling me that what I am doing, constructing a ritual practice, is building a temple in my heart.  And She will come to it eventually.  I have to admit that, while I have identified as Pagan for several years, I have not really practiced as a Pagan except for the last 18 months or so.  And during that time, I have been working out my practice slowly, so that it has only been recently that I have settled on a daily practice.  I need to be patient.  And this message from the Goddess gives me the assurance I need to know that what I am doing does have meaning.

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