These days, I’m taking very little for granted.
Take breathing, for instance. Since my recent summer sabbatical, mindful, conscious, diaphragmatic breathing has become a powerful daily, even hourly, moment-to-moment, practice.
Then there’s our nation’s Constitution and its foundational principal about balance of powers. Need I say more?
And then there’s Our Lord’s Prayer, which I learned as the “Our Father” as a child …
My Lola (“grandmother” in Tagalog, the national dialect of The Philippines) taught me the version that many of us are most familiar with, the one that begins with:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be the Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven …
and that appears in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
Recently, I was introduced to this prayer through a new set of ears, eyes, mind and heart … and by “new”, I actually mean “ancient”.
When Jesus of Nazareth prayed this prayer, of course, he was not praying in English; he was praying in his native Aramaic, a Semitic language related to, but not the same as, Hebrew.
As Neil Douglas-Klotz writes in the Introduction to his book, Prayers of the Cosmos — Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus: “The richness of expression present in the native Aramaic language of Jesus is a treasure that has been lost — or limited only to scholars — for too long ….” In order to fully grasp what and how Jesus was praying, it’s important for people to examine his sacred teachings using at least 3 different lenses: the intellectual, metaphorical, and universal or “mystical”.
Take the English words “Our Father who art in heaven,” for instance,
Some translations of the above that convey the fullness of their meaning, in our modern English, would be:
Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes,
who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration ….
O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos,
You create all that moves in light …
Respiration of all worlds,
we hear you breathing — in and out — in silence …
I’m not sure what these words do for you; for me, they open my eyes, ears and heart, in a new, empowering, profound way.
“Heaven” is not a “place” far away or sometime in our future, where some distant, removed, God-Figure resides separate from us. Heaven and God are as close, as Present, as near to us as our very next breath.
So … Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.
And don’t take anything for granted.
P.S. Want to learn more? Come join me in the south Transept at 11:30 a.m. this Sunday, October 13 to learn more about “The Lord’s Prayer” in Jesus’ native Aramaic.