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Showing posts from June, 2015

Do I Pray?

Do I Pray?

Cat asked me that over dinner last night, and I found I couldn’t easily give an answer.
What, exactly, is prayer?  I find very different definitions if I think about it as a Quaker, as a Pagan, or (just recently) as a student of Tarot, and all three are different from what I thought of as prayer back when I was Christian.

As a Christian, prayer meant talking to God.  There were prayers of praise, prayers of thanksgiving, and intercessory prayers asking God to help others or ourselves.  I did all three of these.  Sometimes it was spontaneous, standing by myself in the woods or in a garden, and sometimes it was recitation from the Book of Common Prayer or the monastic Ordo, but the God who heard me was always abstract and distant.  My prayers, like everything else about my spiritual life, were notional.  I thought about God, I had feelings about God–really intense feelings–but I never felt God.

I remember once in a prayer and discussion group run by the Episcopal…

A Teacher of the Year

Both Peter and I earn our living as teachers.  He teaches high school science–biology, chemistry, and environmental science–and I teach high school English.  All seniors this year, for me: they graduate tonight.


Teaching offers an incredible amount of stress, an inconceivable workload, and more knowledge of the human heart than I perhaps want to have–some years, at any rate.  The best of humanity shows up in American classrooms…and the worst. But I never need to wonder if my work has meaning in the world, and every year offers me another chance to get something right I didn’t get right before.

It is also a job with a built in seasonal cycle–perfect for a Pagan–and built-in opportunities for reflection.  Every year, I can look back on a finite packet of my life, cock my head to one side, and think about what it has all meant.

The end of every year of teaching offers its share of “To Sir with Love” moments.  Today included a glowing thank you letter from one of my students, …

My Gods Don't Like Racism

Racism “involves an emotional dynamic that has disordered the heart both of society as a whole and of every person in the society… I want to know, as fully and exactly as I can, what the wound is and how much I am suffering from it. And I want to be cured; I want to be free of the wound myself, and I do not want to pass it on to my children.” –Wendell Berry, quoted in Yes Magazine’s current special issue on racism. This quote gave me a kind of shock of recognition when I came across it: this is exactly how I feel on the subject of racism.

A couple of weeks ago, I was meditating on the ways witnessing against racism was so obviously connected to my life as a Quaker, but I wondered how it connected to my life as a Pagan.
I’ve heard plenty of Pagans questioning it.  What does a political movement have to do with our religion?  Why do those of us writing about this have to go on and on about it?

As I thought about it, I found myself thinking things along the lines of that Wendell B…