Prayer can feel foreign – even in the English; we don’t spend much of our life doing anything like Shabbat morning prayers. And then there are niggles of intellectual of an ‘I’m not sure I believe that anyway’ sort that come flooding in whenever we find a moment of ease and comfort in the words we don’t fully understand. There is a perfect phrase in Sanskrit – Chitta Vritti – it means ‘mind chatter.’ It’s the overly intellectual part of ourselves that pulls us away from the spiritual moment with counter-argument or shopping lists. Part of the challenge of stilling the Chitta Vritti is learning how to be still – we all rush much too much. But part of the challenge, especially for members of a Shul like ours, is feeling comfortable with the words we are using in our prayers.
This Shabbat Rabbi Roderick Young and I will be sharing in giving a sermon together. We will be talking about the words we use – and don’t use in our prayer service. There are things we pray for; restoration of the sacrificial system for example, and texts we chant that we don’t believe; we recite the second paragraph of the Shema that avers that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people when we know that the real world is much less simple.
As well as a response to the sort of question I get asked frequently – siddur thrust before me as I head into Kiddush, ‘Do you really believe this?!’ – it is also a curtain raiser for our Winter learning on Prayer. This Monday, 7:30pm, Rabbi Roderick will be teaching an introduction to the prayer service at New London. All welcome.