I have lived on the lip of insanity,
wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door.
It opens. I've been knocking
from the inside.
For neither lips nor the brain are the limits of the scene in which prayer takes place. Speech and devotion are functions auxiliary to a metaphysical process. Common to all who pray is the certainty that prayer is an act which makes the heart audible to God. Prayer is not a thought that rambles alone in the world, but an event that starts in man and ends in God.
There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom: distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill.
One of these citations comes from a Jewish spiritual master, another is Christian and the third a Muslim. (For a ‘who is who,’ see below). For me all three touch on basic truths about the journey of prayer, a journey that must begin inside, must reach beyond the self and also re-engage the self.
Of course Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayer traditions are different, but, of course, all spiritual practices aimed at bridging the gap between a finite individual a shared conception of a singular deity will overlap.
I am hugely excited that next Sunday, 1st November 8pm, I will be joined, at New London by our local parish priest, Rev Dr Andres Berquist and the librarian of the Muslim College, Imam Dr Mamdou Bocoum. The Director of the Council of Christians and Jews, David Gifford, will be in the chair.
I expect that, in contra-distinction to last nights BBC Question Time, our discussions will be enlightening and spiritually engaging. This is an important event for New London (indeed the first inter-faith programme since I have joined the Synagogue), you are all most warmly invited to join us.
The first extract in the Rabbi’s weekly words is a poem by the thirteenth century Sufi poet Rumi.
The second is from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Man’s Quest for God.
The third is from the writings of the twentieth century monk Thomas Merton.