A little while back I was in a workshop. It’s an occupational hazard.
On this particular day the facilitator invited us to peruse a collection of prayers from Australian writer Michael Leunig. Perhaps better known for his cartoons (and those are not without controversy), Leunig also writes a series of whimsical, fascinating prayers (or reflections…by another name) ideal for the purposes of the workshop I was in.
I wandered along the table, reading prayers, smiling to myself, enjoying Leunig’s way with words and interesting take on the world – but really just skimming the surface of each of them. And then this:
God help us with ideas, those thoughts which inform the way we live and the things we do. Let us not seize upon ideas, neither shall we hunt them down nor steal them away. Rather let us wait faithfully for them to approach, slowly and gently like creatures from the wild. And let them enter willingly into our hearts and come and go freely within the sanctuary of our contemplation, informing our souls as they arrive and being enlivened by the inspiration of our hearts as they leave.
These shall be our truest thoughts. Our willing and effective ideas. Let us treasure their humble originality. Let us follow them gently back into the world with faith that they shall lead us to lives of harmony and integrity.
There’s so much about this prayer that captured me, that I was honestly not quite sure where to start. As I sat with it, read it, prayed it, I gradually fixed on the line “Let us not seize upon ideas, neither shall we hunt them down nor steal them away. Rather let us wait faithfully for them to approach, slowly and gently like creatures from the wild…”
There’s so much going on in our world, and in our own individual lives, that it’s easy to feel rushed, overwhelmed, overloaded with stimulus. At least in my own life it’s mostly self-inflicted. I’m not prepared to confess the number (for the sheer shame of it), but each week when my phone tells me how many hours a day I’m averaging addicted to just that one device….well….it’s not pretty. Where could an idea approach slowly, and gently like a creature from the wild when I’m constantly cramming my own mind full of data, input, other people’s ideas?
Leunig isn’t necessarily writing about devices, or attention, or busyness and their impact on space for ideas to surface…but those are the things that come to mind for me from this prayer.
Make space. Sit quietly. Walk gently. Meander aimlessly. Allow room to breathe, and think, and simply be. And when that idea approaches like a creature from the wild, look at it with curiosity, with wonder. And see what happens next.
That’s what I’m thinking about today.