Rustlings (March 9, 2015)

Because a host of folk know I’m a member of the clergy (and because a minority of folk know I’m a closet monk), I’m often asked, “How do you pray?”

I typically enter my office – in the quiet of the morning – open a prayer book or Bible, read a passage and meditatively talk with God. For the second morning in a row, however, I was too distracted to engage the discourse. There was a cricket in my office. I could hear it but couldn’t see it. Its insidious leg-friction (chirping) was driving me crazy. Deciding to get on this insect’s level, I left the comfort of my throne and began to creep – on hands and knees – toward the noise.

Following his incessant and irritating cries for help, I finally found him. He was wedged tight against the bottom of a bookshelf; he was in the shadow of Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 9. If it had fallen on him, it would have killed him. If he tried to read it, he would never understand it.

I reached down with forefinger and thumb and picked him up by a hind leg. The pressure probably seemed excruciating to him, but I meant him no harm. I placed him in the palm of my left hand and then covered him with my right to keep him from leaping back into the abyss of my study. He leapt within the hollow of my hand – pounding his exoskeleton against the flesh of my half-closed fist. He was obviously afraid, but in no danger of harm. I walked through the door of my study, down the church hallway, backed into the lever of the exterior door and took him to the lawn. I knelt down, opened my hand and let him hop away. He was back in the familiar warmth of his world. The crisis was over. A new day and a new chapter of life were about to begin. There was no way he could ever understand the manner of his deliverance…but he was safe and free…

And that’s how I pray…and experience prayer.

Jim