This week, I am grateful for ...The Lord's Prayer. I started this entry months ago when I came across the translations (below in the extended blog entry), and it sat unpublished, apparently biding its time until now when I sat wondering what to write for this week's Gratitude Friday entry, and thought aha, I know!
Our Lenten worship service last evening was centred around prayer, specifically the Lord's Prayer. We closed our eyes, Janice (our part time ministry person) led us through a meditation exercise while Peter played beautiful music on the piano, and then Janice slowly read the lines of the prayer, asking us to really think about each line...to hear it, feel it, roll it around for new meaning. Now I must confess I really don't do well in that type of exercise, I just find it really hard to truly immerse myself in deep thought when someone else is controlling the atmosphere. My mind wanders, and I am always conscious of being in a group. Plus, in this case, Peter's piano playing was so wonderful and uplifting that I found it distracting - in a very good way, but distracting nonetheless.
And as often happens, I got stuck on the "Our Father" part of the prayer because those words don't speak ot me at all. (I'll add that "Our Mother" wouldn't speak to me either - I'm unbiased on the gender issue!) For me, God doesn't have a gender or persona of any kind. I remember one Cafe Soul discussion around what were our images of God...I said "sky" simply because it was as close as I could get to my impression of God. God just is...around us, beside us, within us. Trying to describe God in an *image* doesn't hold a lot of meaning for me, in fact it feels restrictive.
I struggled for years with the concept of God as Father, because I knew I didn't believe in that God and yet I have always felt a strong faith in *something*. But I couldn't bring myself to say "I believe in God" when it seemed the word "God" was reserved for a patriarchal Father figure. So I didn't know how to reconcile my feeling of faith with what I thought was the accepted vision of God. Of course that was before I actually started attending church, and discovered that the Father figure is far from being the accepted vision of God, just one of many ways to experience God. It seems many do believe that God as Father is the only true God, but I have also found that many others have a faith grounded in God as light and love, as spirit and breath of life, as power and presence and source of strength, as many things, but without gender, without form. Hallelujah, there's a place for me on the shared faith journey after all!!
Having said all that...I sometimes find comfort in reciting the Lord's Prayer in unison with fellow companions. I remember reciting it in St. James Episcopal church in Florence, when I was there on my solo trip. When I closed my eyes, I almost felt home in my own church. And there is much in the prayer that does speak to me, as long as I pray to Creator and not Father! And pray it with meaning and not just as words I give no thought to (which practice was also another thread of Janice's worship service last evening.) I like the "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" part...because I believe in living out faith actively in the here and now. I also like the emphasis on being both forgiven and forgiving, because forgiveness goes both ways. In part because we ourselves find wholeness by letting go of the burden of others' actions.
An old thread on WonderCafe about the Lord's Prayer pointed me to some interesting versions of the prayer found on this blog. Not knowing Aramaic, I've no idea how accurate the translations or the original version are, but I love some of the interpretation. Far less patriarchal than the standard version with which I am familiar.
The Prayer To Our Father
(in the original Aramaic)
"Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes,
who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.
Nehwê tzevjânach aikâna d'bwaschmâja af b'arha.
Let Your will come true - in the universe (all that vibrates)
just as on earth (that is material and dense).
Hawvlân lachma d'sûnkanân jaomâna.
Give us wisdom (understanding, assistance) for our daily need,
Waschboklân chaubên wachtahên aikâna
daf chnân schwoken l'chaijabên.
detach the fetters of faults that bind us, (karma)
like we let go the guilt of others.
Wela tachlân l'nesjuna
Let us not be lost in superficial things (materialism, common temptations),
ela patzân min bischa.
but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.
Metol dilachie malkutha wahaila wateschbuchta l'ahlâm almîn.
From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act,
the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.
Sealed in trust, faith and truth.
(I confirm with my entire being)
Lords Prayer Translated from Aramaic
A Translation of "Our Father" directly from Aramaic into English
O cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration. Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your Presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth, power and fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again.
THE ARAMAIC PRAYER OF JESUS
as translated from Aramaic by Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz of the Sufi Order of the West
O, Birther of the Cosmos, focus your light within us -- make it useful
Create your reign of unity now
Your one desire then acts with ours,
As in all light,
So in all forms,
Grant us what we need each day in bread and insight:
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
As we release the strands we hold of other's guilt.
Don't let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
The power and the life to do,
The song that beautifies all,
From age to age it renews.
I affirm this with my whole being.
And, for those of you over a certain age, who remembers this marvellous song version from the 1970's, by Sister Janet Mead? I used to love it as a kid, and had completely forgotten about it until Janice, Valerie and I were talking after the Lenten worship service about various sung versions of the Lord's Prayer and they both mentioned this, although in different contexts. I went home and immediately looked for an online version (thanks to whoever posted this on youtube!)
As always, each Friday I invite you to click over to Diana Strinati Baur's blog and check out the other Gratitude Friday Club blogs...