Of sushi and the unpackaging of prayer

Last week I made some sushi for myself for the first time ever from scratch. I bought the sushi rice, the seaweed, tuna, salmon, sweetfish roe…and as I made it, I mentally meditated and drifted into prayer, and within the centering of myself I saw in my mind’s eye prayer and how I should give praying a try.

I do communicate with God, which is for all intensive purposes what prayer is, communication with God. Yet I have a habit of thanking God in general terms, but as I rolled the sushi (which I’m actually pretty good at) I got prayer from a sushi point of view.

Sushi, as many of you know, is comprised of the seaweed/rice/some fish or shellfish or related and all of these ingredients make sushi what it is. You can’t remove one ingredient, say the rice, and still call it sushi…and so as I return to praying on a regular basis (to change myself, to change what I can’t via social justice, or even just to BE) with thanking God for all the parts that make for the whole and the whole itself. I’ve already entered in to this form of prayer and I find myself connected, I find myself in tears of happiness in doing this.
Prayer like sushi, who would’ve thought that one of my favorite foods in the whole world would serve me in a way of coming back to prayer? 🙂

~Nathanael~

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Coming back to prayer (like a child)


(St. Francis of Assisi in a moment of prayer and meditation)

I have been astray from a regular prayer life as of late. I truly pray for others and their concerns, but there are times when I get caught up in prayer and yet I know it is communication with God.

I get caught up because I start thinking and analyzing how I can be the answer to my prayers. It is true, sometimes we are the answer to our prayers, and when we are I think we should act on it. But there are times where we can’t be the answer, that the solution doesn’t lie at our fingertips, but still I fight this more than I should.

Prayer doesn’t make me out to be weak, it does point to where I realize I sometimes don’t have control over what’s going on but just like in day-to-day life I need help. Yet my mentality about prayer has been warped at times because I self-delude myself into thinking “I got this” and subsequently leave God off to the side until I need God. I can’t say that it’s been truly detrimental, but sometimes I wrestle with my thoughts and feelings on my own, I’m selfish about this too much of the time.

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One quote that has renewed my spirit is one from C.S. Lewis, he said; “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.

Prayer is communication with God, and like a father who’s there so I should return to him as his child and pour out my heart with no guile, no perception of having to tidy up my words and thoughts. My analytical skills are useful, but they hamper me with being real with myself and situation[s] in the realm of prayer, and yet God knows my heart and my mind, God knows what I long and ache for at the core of my being. This is why I want to come back to praying as a child, because a child has an innocence about them that is endearing for not having gone through the strains that come with life, a child trusts and believes in good more over than bad, a child loves without strings attached because it doesn’t get bogged down in analysis and weighing out the pros and cons.

This is the posture I’m returning to; a posture of recognizing how helpless I really am, and how I need to approach life as a prayer and have it flow in and out of me as if it were breathing. I will do what I can when social justice and help are required of me instead of praying for the situation, but even still I will return to a posture of prayer because “it doesn’t change God- it changes me”.

~Nathanael~

The god of vacant parking spots

I have a family member who when driving with her she tends to pray in advance of me parking my car for a parking spot.

Now I consider myself a man of prayer. I enjoy praying because essentially it is talking and communicating with God, and there are times there’s no one I rather talk to than God, and not in bad times where life is unmanageable and I’ve gone on too long in leaning on my own strength but times when life is good, times when perfect shalom appears to be the horizon.

My take on praying to a god for a parking spot is…well…making God out to be something he’s not, in the same stride the god presented when looking for a parking spot, is the god that gets prayed to when we leave the house late and hope to get on work on time, the god who gets called upon when we’re watching to see if our lottery ticket is the one that wins big, the god who’s thanked for unexpected pizza days at school, the god we pray to that we don’t get caught after pulling an illegal u-turn, the god who let our team win the Super Bowl.

The thing is, that god is not God. That god is small, puny, domesticated and contained. He is docile, he’s our lucky charm, he’s our Mr. Potato Head…but what kind of god is that? What good is a god like that?

C.S. Lewis put it well in his book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. One of the children upon hearing that Aslan is a lion asks The Beavers if Aslan is safe; “Of course he isn’t safe! But he’s good.” Aslan is the character representing God, in which He cannot be thoroughly comprehended, he cannot truly be defined by mere human words, there is no box to contain him and he is not safe…but he is good. So to attribute available parking spots to him, the lack of getting a ticket, the winning of the Super Bowl, and so on is detrimental to us and not to God.

Instead of putting God in a box, why not let God be God? Because a God who isn’t contained by our standards and presuppositions is more of who he is anyway. He isn’t safe, but he is good.

~Nathanael~

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2 things I’m contemplating prior to the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago

There are some individuals who say that you should compartmentalize and keep the sacred from the secular and vice versa. Yet the way I look at it, all truth is God’s truth and there doesn’t need to be a split up of the so-called sacred and secular.

As I prep for the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago I’m contemplating two things, one’s a well known prayer and one’s a cover song by Todd Rungren’s band Utopia called Love is theAnswer.

Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer:

Utopia/Todd Rundgren – Love is the Answer

I’m excited for a third year to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community (not that there’s no overlap but there needs to be more) at the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. God spoke to me prior to the event 3 years ago and I listened and I acted, and so I prepare to leave my house to answer the call once again.

It must be done, building bridges, because this is an issue the church cannot sweep under the carpet and hope nobody notices…well I notice it and the way we act the LGBT community knows it as well. These things take time, but I have faith in God and my generation that we will take care of the matter to truly take the steps of restoration and reconciliation between the Christian community and the LGBT community. Yet since it is in it’s early stages those individuals who go forward now, such as Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation, are pioneers; they’re blazing a trail that hasn’t been traversed and they’re going on faith and trusting in God because the outcome hasn’t been determined yet…but God will see them and I to completion, I have faith in him to do that 🙂

John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

~Nathanael~

5/31 – Something in my life that gives me balance

Something in my life that gives me balance

In motorcycle culture there’s a term used to describe someone or something that gives your life support, kickstand, and 2 years ago at the event I’m going to this morning (Motorcycle Sunday) someone who prayed over one of the bikers was called this.

Now for me, prayer in itself is communication with God, and how to good relationships become what they are? Communication! Prayer isn’t a crutch, but in many a way it is a kickstand in my life. I enjoy talking to God about what’s going on in my life as well as in the lives of others both those I know and those I don’t know.

I am a firm believer in prayer combined with social action (if possible), because what ifI am the answer to their prayer? I don’t say this egotistically, but I think that at times we’re the best answer to prayers, we can pray that those who are homeless get fed, or we can go out and feed the homeless, the solution is sometimes plain as day but we must be willing to go where God leads us and to serve others as if we were serving him.

I remember when I was younger I earned the label “Prayer Warrior” for my dedication to praying, in particularly for unborn children in my area (my parents started up the local pregnancy information clinic). Now that was an interesting title, but I’ll have to give some thought as to what they means, because it almost seems like it’s about fighting with prayer…maybe it doesn’t mean that, but I’ve never thought it out before.

Talking to God, my Heavenly Father, gives me balance and I have more of a relationship with him than with my biological father. It pains me to say this, and maybe things will get better in the future, maybe we will be reconciled one to another but at this time the relationship is severely fractured, to which I keep this in prayer as well.

If you’re in need of prayer, let me know, I would like to pray for you! 🙂

~Nathanael~

Learning and wanting to love again

Love, love is a verb. It’s not a verb because old school DC Talk told me so, it is a verb, it must be active and acted upon in order for its sustainability. But love cannot be sustained if it’s unilateral, and the whole notion of falling in love…it’s temporal and a weak perception of love, because if you can fall in love (hypothetically) you certainly can fall out…and I don’t know anyone who likes the latter, it hurts like hell and leaves one in pieces that take a while to gather, it also leaves one guarded and with a mindset of never again will I fall in love and to that I think it’s good never to fall in love again.

But when it comes to acting on love, being active with love, sustainable and bilateral love…I’m ready to learn how to love again.

Love is universal, but how love is acted out varies from couple to couple; a good book that tackles different love languages is The 5 Love Languages, I highly recommend it, and in the same vein of thought to some degree I recommend Sex God.

In the movie Hot Tub Time Machine there’s this dialogue between one of the characters (a product of the 2000’s) and another character (product of the 1980’s) and I think at times it does sum up love;

Jacob: I’m kinda right in the middle of a thing right now, but can I text you later?
Girl at Club: Can you what?
Jacob: Are you online at all?
Girl at Club: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Jacob: How do I get a hold of you?
Girl at Club: You come find me.
Jacob: That sounds… exhausting.

“You come find me” love beckons, love calls and at times love is indeed “exhausting” but for me, it is worth the exhaustion. It is worth the chance of having my heart ripped out and stomped on again…I’m not stupid, I’m not going to give away myself cheaply, I know the kind of girl I am looking for and I hope she’s looking for me as well.

When I proactively look for love, I deem it “praying with my eyes open”; Love won’t simply fall into my lap, heck if that happened how sustainable if it just came to me, but it is something I must search out and take to God in prayer. I want to love and be loved, I am ready to do my part in the process of looking for love…it is time, now is that time for me. 🙂

~Nathanael~

The prayer of serenity

Some of you may be familiar with the prayer of serenity/serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:

I purchased a small stained glass depiction of the prayer above earlier today, because I like the prayer and because at times I actually need to follow what it says! 🙂

To which if I examine it carefully and internalize and process what it says… Somehow by the grace of God I will be granted serenity, I will be able to accept what I cannot change, I’ll have the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

The crucial part of this prayer for me is the acceptance of what I cannot change and wisdom for what I can change, because right now that’s hard for me to get, hard for me to grasp, because there definitely are circumstances in my life I wish I could change and maybe…just maybe, they fall in the acceptance box of not being able to change it, and sometimes that is very hard for me to deal with and simply accept. I do recognize to some extent of what I am capable of doing to bring about change, bring about restoration and reconciliation, to help in Kingdom of God work with the strengths and talents God has given me.

Having this little piece of stained glass will help me to remember and perhaps even offer up this very prayer. I am a work in progress, and God knows and I know that I have this one life to get there, and it is certainly by God’s strength alone that I am able to get where I need to be in my life.

So even as I write… God I do so desperately want to have the wisdom to know what I can change and to accept that I cannot change, I need you so much to get there, I need you so much to help me let go, help me in my self righteousness and when I think I am capable of doing it all without your help, help me and hold me…Amen!

~Nathanael~