Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Prayer

blush roses

It's part of our world, this violence, says Laura Boggess in response to the next chapter in Gerald May's Wisdom of Wilderness.

I sit at my keyboard, wish for something profound to say, to add to a hard but good conversation. Nothing comes.

Instead I remember a morning practice, born in desperation, when ordinary word-prayer seemed powerless to help me meet the days in an urban classroom that had no crayons, no paper, no math books, one tiny shelf of picture books, no teaching assistant, 30 kids (many with serious behavior issues).

I don't recall what started it exactly, the wordless prayer. Was it the day after Calvin, my psychotic student, dangled himself out the window, 200 feet above the empty blacktop playground? Or maybe it was the week the principal punched Maurice and Maurice's mother screamed and overturned a huge conference table against my pregnant belly. Perhaps it was when Ivan punched Billy (again), leaving blood on the floor. Could it have been after I shouted at the class (again) and emptied the garbage can onto linoleum and told them to pick it up, pick it all up?

I don't remember. What comes back is the desperation of those moments. I wasn't the only teacher shocked at the violence and deprivation in the school, shocked at how far I could be pushed emotionally. Any given day you could hear shouting up and down the halls. Violence begetting violence.

And then came the peach blush roses. One morning I walked out of my apartment, and a light sweet raspberry scent met my senses. I leaned down for as much time as I could spare from my impending commute and smelled those roses again and again. Their sweetness melted some kind of sorrow and hardness that had begun to be a constant companion. In my mind, I took them with me, a prayer for the day, a solace.

It would be nice to say I became Teacher of the Year after that. Or always compassionate. I still struggled. But the struggle changed. When violence would rise in the classroom, or even in my own heart, I would remember the roses, their soft blush, their raspberry scent. Each time I was faithful to remember them, the moments went better. God was in the roses, I think, giving me a wordless prayer, a way.

Blush Roses photo, by L.L. Barkat.


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Blogger Kelly Sauer said...

awh... that just put tears in my eyes...

10:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think that's what prayer is ... a fresh perspective changing the direction of our souls and aligning us with our Creator. Even if it is visual or a repetition of words memorized, if it aligns us rightly, then it is a prayer... God reaches us in so many ways, with never-ending creativity.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

Beauty: antidote to violence.

Wordless thanks: prayer-to-be and to be heard.

Peach blush roses: scent in memory of His beauty, of us in His image if we but look and see.

God is in the roses. He is in His children. In us, when we are reminded, as you remind today.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Doug Young said...


12:55 PM  
Blogger Glynn said...

We should talk sometime, or I should post sometime, about my 9 months at St. Louis Public Schools. Heartbreak, anguish, frustration, exasperation -- and the occasional, rare eruption of something good. Your post brought it all back.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

This must be why we are told to think on these things.
The holy, righteous, true, lovely, pure. Access to exceeding great power! Love the visual to put it to use. Thank you. The fragrance came through.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Bina said...

Beautiful, my friend...

9:01 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

How miraculous that the Father would give you that sweet gift in the midst of such difficult circumstances. It must have been like a sweet reminder that He is always with us.
What amazing experiences you have had.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Cassandra Frear said...

I think wordless prayer is one of THE most beautiful things in our fallen world.

God has met me deeply through it, at my lowest moments, at dizzy heights, at turning points, at places of need.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just read this last night.

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.

For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:4-5

To be drawn to the beauty of the Lord and find He provides refuge when we may not have even known we needed it.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous suzy said...

This is just lovely.

1:38 PM  
Blogger S. Etole said...

He speaks in so many ways ... glad you heard Him ...

7:08 AM  
Blogger Joelle said...

Oh my. You know. My own experience pales, but finds company in knowing what teaching was for you. Maybe you remember the mantra that came unbidden one day and changed everything: Divine Light, shine through my brokenness. Like the fragrance of roses....

7:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm so sorry I missed this post!! Life has been crazy here, extra work at the hospital and extra life lessons at home. I so apologize. What a story this tells, and I once again stand in awe of the deep wells of experience you have sipped drank lustily from.

Trying to catch up but not doing a very good job.

9:12 AM  

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