Sometimes I learn things that are not related to my classroom. This week it was just a small, personal epiphany about prayer.
Prayer. I’ve thought frequently about the effect it has on God and on the world, in a mysterious sort of way that if I dwell on too much kind of messes with my mind. I’ve thought about the effect it has on me. That seems fairly commonsensical, from both a spiritual and a physical perspective. What occurred to me for the first time this week was the effect prayer has on community.
Something was weighing on my mind this week. Wednesday night, when I was walking to the gym where I’ve been practicing twice a week with my Japanese volleyball club for the last 18 years, I thought, I should share this problem with my teammates.
But without the ability to add, “...Please pray...,” sharing troubles that don’t directly affect the group suddenly seemed like either whining or venting. So when I got to the gym, I just smiled, played ball, and chatted about the spring weather and the low turnout for practice.
Walking home, I reflected that whenever anything particularly good or bad occurs, I turn to the people whom I regularly pray with and for--a few individuals, family, the staff who meet for morning prayer, and my church fellowship group. “This great thing happened--give thanks!” “This awful thing happened--please pray!”
Then it’s not whining or venting (or even gloating, for the good things) because I’m asking them to join me in an activity. To work. To help. And when they do the same to me, I call their problems frequently to mind, not just to fret or feel bad, but to do something--pray.
Think what that does for community--what a tightly woven fabric of compassion wraps us together when we open ourselves over and over to request and do the work and joy of prayer for each other. What a relational void would gape in my life if I did not practice prayer in that kind of community.
...On the other hand, maybe this learning is related to my classroom. As inspirational writer Anne Lamott says when asked a question specifically about writing, or specifically about faith--anything I know about anything applies to everything. I pray with and for my class. And I shared this epiphany with my 1st period class for devotions on Thursday. Because letting my students see how I practice, learn, and grow is as important in my faith as in my writing.