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Praying With Open Arms

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Here is an excerpt from "Stories of God" by Maria Rainer Rilke, I am curious to know what your thoughts are on his ideas about God, and particularly I would like to encourage every one to try praying with wide open arms and see what happens. Here's what he says:

"You know," I began again, "in olden times people prayed like this -" and I spread my arms out wide, involuntarily feeling my breast expand at the gesture. "in those days God would cast himself into all these human abysses, full of despair and darkness, and only reluctantly did he return into his heavens, which, unnoticed, he drew down ever closer over the earth.



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But a new faith began. As it could not make men understand wherein its new God differed from their old one (for as soon as they began to praise him, men promptly recognized the one old God here too), the promulgator of the new commandment changed the manner of praying. He taught the folding of hands and declared: "See, thus does our God wish to be implored, so he must be another God from the one whom heretofore you have thought to receive into your arms." The people saw this, and the gesture of open arms became a despicable and dreadful one, and later it was fastened to the cross that all might see in it a symbol of agony and death.

Now when God next looked down upon the earth, he was frightened. Besides the many folded hands, many Gothic cathedrals had been built, and so the hands and the roofs, alike steep and sharp, stretched pointing towards him like the weapons of an enemy. With God there is a different bravery. He turned back into his heavens, and when he saw that the steeples and the new prayers were growing in pursuit of him, he departed out of his domain at the other side and thus eluded the chase.


He was himself astonished to find, out beyond his radiant home, a beginning darkness that received him silently, and with a curious feeling he went on and on in this dusk that reminded him of the hearts of men. Then for the first time it occurred to him that the heads of men are lucid, but their hearts full of a similar darkness; and a longing came over him to dwell in the hearts of men and no longer move through the clear, cold wakefulness of their thinking.

Well, God has continued on his way. Ever denser grows the darkness around him, and the night through which he presses on has something of the fragrant warmth of fecund clods of earth. And in a little while the roots will reach out towards him with the old beautiful gesture of wide prayer. There is nothing wiser than the circle. The God who has fled from us out of the heavens, out of the earth will he come to us again. And, who knows, perhaps you yourself will some day dig free the door..."

2 comments:

Daniel B. said...

As some people know this was discussed and read by me a few weeks ago and since then I have been praying and meditating like that with arms and hands up, open to the universe. It feels better it feel impowering. To breath in openly instead of restricting the flow by the traditional christian attitude of bent over prayer. Thank you for introducing this to me.

Two Feathers said...

I love this method of prayer too.

Mostly, my prayers are more like "begging mantras" consisting of : please please please - followed by whatever it is that I'm most afraid will (or will not) happen.

When I remember to pray like this, I always feel better, my prayers are more like communion, and everything that is clenching up seems to relax - at least a little bit.

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