I have a “Mutts” comic strip on my desk, clipped from a newspaper a few years back. It was published sometime around Thanksgiving (the date says 11/24—no year). The text, a quote from Meister Eckhart, a medieval German theologian who was “committed to the highest possible standards in scholarship and spirituality,” says simply “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”
I thought about calling this blog “Gratitude” but it was already taken and frankly there are some things I am not so thankful for (See: Things that Drive me Crazy Vol. I) But the quote was as much about prayer as it was about remembering to be grateful, which I am and actively try to be. I am about as lapsed a Catholic as you can be. Did I say lapsed? I meant hostile. So much about the Catholic Church makes me so angry, and I struggled for a long time with how to make peace between my upbringing and my present self. Especially after having children. I felt like a hypocrite having my first child baptized. (Aside: I never felt that way about getting married in the church. I saw it as a gift to my family, my grandmother and parents, who were steadfast in their belief that they owed everything they had to God). But I wondered how I could possibly teach a child what I no longer believed. And it confused and frustrated me.
Then September 11th happened. I have never cried more, and could not imagine the suffering of those who waited and wondered. I knew at that moment that there could not be a god, any god. At one point during our nearly round-the-clock vigil at the television, my husband asked me what I would do if I was asked to pray for the safe return of a loved one. Pray? No. I couldn’t. Even that felt false. But, in a moment, like a door blowing open in a gale, I understood. I did not have to pray TO someone or something, but I sure could pray FOR something or someone.
So the comic strip became validation of a sort. And as it yellows, I am more and more grateful. Which is prayer enough.