We read the whole thing in turns around the circle (okay, our version skipped the first two lines) and then went back and discussed line by line (obviously not having time to get through the whole thing).
You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.We all agreed that we/people should pray in the good times and the bad, but that people/we pray more in times of need. Trelawney talked about stepping out of the joy to express gratitude, and I regret that I didn't more forcefully counter the idea that gratitude etc. has to be separate from joy. I did point out that we should be in relationship with God, in all things, not just remembering about God when we need something, though certainly I am often guilty of that.
For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?
And if it is for your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is also for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.
And if you cannot but weep when your soul summons you to prayer, she should spur you again and yet again, though weeping, until you shall come laughing.
When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet.
My instinct was to like "For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?" I thought about my difficulty with intercessory prayer and how one of the ways I'm able to be okay with it is thinking of it as being with a person in their difficulty. I didn't actually have a chance to say any of this. (Despite this, however, the "When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour..." felt too New Agey or something for me.)
Mike said it felt idolatrous -- that it was referring to God but calling it something other than God. I didn't entirely follow. Oh well.
We had much discussion as to whether prayer felt like reaching out to God or opening oneself to let God in, including whether this feeling was different for different kinds of prayers. This of course reminded me that I have such a poor prayer life, so I just stayed quiet 'cause I really didn't have anything to add.
Michelle was talking about reaching beyond her body, and this made me a touch uncomfortable, 'cause the way she was phrasing it and talking about, I was hearing it as the idea that our bodies are something to be reached beyond with there being something inherently bad (maybe just flawed? imperfect?) about bodies. While I'm not as attached to the idea of bodily resurrection as say Madeleine L'Engle is (yes, I'm still reading The Genesis Trilogy), I've come some ways from my mind/soul-body dichotomy days when Allie and I first knew each other, and I'm much more pro-body, backed up Scripturally I believe with the Incarnation and God making all of Creation and deeming it "good" and all that. It didn't seem quite the moment to interrogate what Michelle was or was not trying to imply, though.
Michelle talked about getting filled up at church and then giving out that energy through intercessory prayer, and I thought of starlight in In the Night Garden (which I am currently reading).
I shook my head vigorously at Trelawney's question of whether suffering was necessary to come closer to God.
I said it was mean, that I am more okay with ends-justify-means (though I couldn't quite bring myself to use that exact phrase) and God having a grand plan than some people are, plus suffering tends to make me negative&thinky and okay that does mean I spend more time engaged with God, but still, mean.
In the discussion about reaching out vs. opening up and the question of being with other people in prayer (we also talked a little bit about whether prayer in community is/feels different than when one is praying by oneself) and Mike talked about God as conduit.
After some talk, I said, "So it's like you're all plugged into The Matrix at the same time."
Mike and Eric totally geeked out, riffing off each other with computer analogies. "It's not peer-to-peer, there's a server involved." "You've got a VPN [Virtual Private Network] with God."
Earlier we had used the analogy of a window, with God being the sunshine; and an alternative analogy of a port window on a ship and the water coming in and overwhelming you.
Seth to me: "You've been quiet tonight."
me: "I know, it's kind of freakish, isn't it?"
Seth said I had a social intelligence, that I was good at being attentive to people and responding to them.
Someone said something about Backgammon (related to the most recent Game Night) and I said something to Michelle ("The Gammon's the only good part") and she went into muffled hysterics. Later, Eric Affirmed Mike -- he'd walked in to the party and there was a gaggle of girls and he went into the back and found Mike and Andrew with computer; by the end of the story he joked something about cigars and I whispered "bro" to Michelle, knowing I shouldn't 'cause it would make her crack up.
Eric Affirmed my mention of the issue of suffering, said it really resonates with him. I appreciated that.
After closing prayer, Mike and I said something about repeatable phenomena, and he referenced an xkcd strip which I hadn't seen at the time.
Somewhere in the evening, I said, "True story," and Michelle said, "I love that phrase. I love when you use that phrase." Heart.
At some point during the discussion, Michelle said when they do Creeds other than the one she grew up with (she grew up Catholic) made her feel squicky, even though she knows she shouldn't she's just so used to the one she grew up with, and Eric kinda quirked at that word like it was new to him, which confused me.