Saturday, November 24, 2012

When pain is prayer

In a recent post in her outstanding blog SHIRT OF FLAME, author Heather King featured an interview by Calvin Lashway with the author of a new book about Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor.

The book is titled, “The Terrible Speed of Mercy: ASpiritual Biography of Flannery O'Connor” by Jonathan Rogers (and is on my Christmas list!). O'Connor, by the way, suffered for years from, and died of lupus at the age of 39.
Flannery at her Georgia home

The title of that blog post is also a quote by O’Connor—“Sickness is a place.”

As I pondered that conscious and honest statement, I remembered a time when my own experience with sickness taught me a very personal lesson, one that can only be learned if and when you are in that place

Pain can be prayer.
“Recently I confided to my prayer group friends that I just can’t pray, at least, not in the way I’m used to praying. Not only does it physically hurt to sit at my prayer chair, I can’t make myself do the familiar prayers and contemplation that I’ve done for years,” I wrote in my journal. 
“As I shared this with my group, I benefited greatly from hearing and sharing stories from others about times when prayer has been difficult, or impossible. But my friend Scott simply smiled at me, and with his usual wise insight, suggested, “Maria, your pain IS your prayer right now.”