Thursday, September 07, 2006

Excuse Me While I B.A.R.F.

Was praying with my family, ie my dad, 2 sisters, and our kasambahay Daya, last Saturday (Mama was out making money, which can be a form of prayer, I suppose, if you do it religiously and ritualistically. Ahem.). While it was not an unusual occurence for mi familia to pray together, it had been a long time since the last group thanksgiving-slash-supplication. We (and by we, I really mean my eldest sister and my dad) just felt like saying thank you to God because we've been feeling especially blessed the past few days. So in a fit of Protestant gratitude, we prayed.

When it was my turn to pray, I felt fake because I hadn't prayed in a long time. A long time. Possibly years. The kind of prayer that requires sincerity, heartfelt gratitude, and more importantly, the acknowledgement of God's control over one's life. I've become too William Ernest Henley, too "Master of My Fate", for that. Nevertheless, I prayed. It was sincere enough but I knew too that I was just regurgitating many of the words. And then... out of nowhere, the words came out of my mouth, "Lord, help each one of us carve our own paths."

That sounded so foreign to me, and a little bit jarring. Not because I've never said or thought about carving one's own path (in fact, that's all I think about) but because I had never ever prayed it. I was brought up to believe that a Christian could never be a Humanist and vice versa because to be humanist is to assert man's inferiority to no one (much less to someone who remains unseen).

And yet there I was praying what can only be called a humanist's prayer. And while I was jarred for a microsecond, I felt good afterwards. Imagine that. One can be a Humanist Christian, I suppose, or a religious academic, one who prays in a scholarly (seemingly secular) manner. Sometimes, I wonder at my Westernized academic orientation with its inordinate fondness for creating artificial dichotomies. As if we don't live our lives in a fairly integrated (and unconscious) manner. (Don't you just love the mind? It's a lean, mean, rationalizing machine. Hehe.)

What does prayer have to do with FOOD? Uh... it's food for the soul?

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