40 Days On the Edge (Day 11): Dark Night of the Soul
40 Days On the Edge (Day 13): Heaven's Tug

40 Days On the Edge (Day 12): Embodied Prayer

hands Place always matters.  The obvious fact that we are embodied --- move about, lie down, taste touch, see, smell and hear --- means that our environment, rich with stimuli, holds meaning for us.

Consider the word "home."  Just to say the word immediately stokes the senses.  If asked, I could tell you what "home" looked like, sounded like, felt like, and smelled like for me.  I know the worn smooth feel of the brass doorknob in my hand, see my mother standing in the kitchen, hands in flour, rolling out the bread dough to make biscuits, know the feeling of the bedspread I would flop down on after school, and know the sound of the cars passing by outside or the breeze through the trees by my window.

That such places are impressed in our memories is likely one reason why having a particular place to regularly pray is important.  Through such habitual use of a place, we begin to associate the memory of it with prayer, with a "face-to-face" encounter with God (though maybe not quite in the way Moses did).  In fact, when sight, sound, or smell during the day reminds us of that place, we may even long for it.  You might say it becomes "memorable."

I have a place like that.  I sit in a chair in our third floor guest room and stare out the window at the trees.  The room itself is blessedly spartan, not a magazine or book or computer screen to distract me, and ascending the stairs to go up to that private place I have a physical sense of going "up" to Him, as Moses might have in going up Mount Horeb to converse with God or in walking outside the camp, pitching the Tent of Meeting, and entering into communion with God.  These physical acts are important --- going up, going out --- much as folded hands, kneeling, or lying prostrate on the floor may help our prayer be seen and experienced.  This doesn't mean we cannot pray anywhere, because we can.  As Emily Dickinson said, "Where Thou art --- that is --- Home."  God is everywhere, so we can be at home with Him anywhere, but a regular place helps visually and sensually establish a habit of setting apart a place and time for God.

In a real sense, when we enter this place, when we converse with God, we are brushing up against our true Home  As John Ruskin said, "[Home] is the place of Peace; the shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt, and division."  So get up, go out, kneel, lie down, bow, and find a place where you can be at Home with God.  Get physical.  Root prayer in place.