The Drive to Prayer

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. I’m sure that some of that comes off of a Christmas season filled with hope and thanksgiving for all we have, heavily underscored with a Catholic upbringing and sensibility that grows stronger with age.

Still, I find myself lingering on some of those truisms about never feeling free unless you forgive those who have hurt you, or telling the truth-and-all-the-truth so help you God. I don’t know if I completely agree with all of that. Yes, I know that Catholic mothers have it all over Jewish moms for guilt (yes, we can trade war stories if you wish). There were few days growing up that didn’t include a healthy dose of “shoulda woulda coulda” in relation to perceived or real sins. Mostly, though, I like to live my life a bit more in-the-moment. Nothing comes from dwelling on what could have been. We make decisions, we take the consequences of our actions. Sometimes those consequences keep hurting (like the Sunday drop-offs when you’re divorced) and sometimes you gain a few pounds (like you need an example).

driverTonight, driving home, I felt something really strange – the desire to pray while I was driving. Okay, I’ve definitely done that in a snowstorm, or late at night while being followed by an aggressive driver. This was different. This felt like something I NEEDED to do for me, for my soul. It had nothing to do with guilt, I think. I hadn’t recently committed an egregious sin, hurt someone intentionally, or cheated on my husband. So why the strange timing? Is this what it means to grow older? Do we all end up reaching for spirituality more and more as we age? And what the hell did driving have to do with it?

The only conclusion I can come up with is that praying, like driving, happens more instinctively when the non-thinking side of our brain kicks in, when our mind is freed to be creative and open. We’ve all had that feeling of arriving somewhere and remembering nothing of the drive. Some of my best ideas have come upon me in a car. Still, for today, praying felt like an original kind of emotion, like the new song, art, or music that resides in our left brains. It came from the same place, and felt just as surprising. There was little original in the words, but a lot in the emotion. It was an original piece of soul. oh.