It was an oddest assignment for contemplative prayer.
I was to take the Lord’s Prayer into the meditation, and as I let myself be guided by the vision, I was to intone the prayer. Word by word. Out loud.
Speaking aloud during contemplative prayer was not the most unusual aspect of the assignment, I thought. It was using the Lord’s Prayer, itself, during such an exercise.
Not that I have not had experiences, both in visions and in life, related to the Lord’s Prayer.
In my visions of what I call, the end of the world, but what God entitles his period of Works and Wonders, the solution to chaos reigning on Earth is always the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer. Collectively. Globally. Universally.
The Lord’s Prayer as the means of salvation.
Now, as an aside here, I find just this type of vision a key in understanding man’s difficulty with having a relationship with God. God floods the Earth, wiping out sin, ostensibly, with hope anyway, and this is what God sits back and refers to as a Work or a Wonder.
We call it a disaster. A horror. Death.
A few people might find their deepest spiritual gift and eventually get down on their knees and thank God for such an act.
The rest of us will pretty much just go, harumph. And wonder not at the work God has wrought, but at God himself.
But I have “used” the Lord’s Prayer as actual redemption, if that’s the right word, in a real-life situation.
When I am working on a miracle I use the rosary to pray. I use “my” prayer on the small beads, and on the large beads I pray the Lord’s Prayer and the Gloria Patri. When the assignment is a challenging one, when there is a matter of getting through what feels to be a wall of evil just to make the petition to God, I use the break of the Lord’s Prayer to be the best form of relief from the struggle.
I know I am having difficulty when, during the prayers for the miracle, I cannot remember the words. When it becomes too much, I keep the words on a card before me and read the prayer. Over and over and over again.
But when I come to the large bead and there get to say the Lord’s Prayer, surely a prayer that I know beyond my heart – way beyond – and I flounder in finding those precious words and become confused about their order, and grasping a handy prayerbook in order to be able to utter the prayer, I feel as though I have been given a large rock to rest on between the bouts in the conflict that is the praying for the miracle.
The first use of the Lord’s Prayer mentioned above I have always seen as the ultimate petition. Our world is under threat, about to be extinguished, please help us, Father.
The second use listed, the one in the series of prayers for a miracle, is, as I described, an oasis. A relief.
So that is why I blinked a bit when I received the assignment to bring the Lord’s Prayer into a time of contemplative prayer with me. I knew what the vision was to be, generally. I had been prepped, so to speak. And I couldn’t find where the Lord’s Prayer would be used as an entreaty for help. Nor did I see that it would be used as a form of temporary easement.
Instead, I was to say the prayer, out loud, word by word, throughout the vision.
Not even as a background sound effect, existing peripherally. The Lord’s Prayer was to be my words in the conversation.
The vision had to do with a closet.
And a case inside the closet.
A case that, to my mind, in heading into this vision quickly became Pandora’s box.
(And, yes, I know that the word “box” was a mistranslation and that Pandora was actually given a jar, but for the purposes of my vision, it’s still a box. Something with corners, anyway.)
And I was Pandora.
The other person in the conversation, in the vision, in the healing, was Jesus.
He came into the closet after me.
Perhaps now, with him there with me, it was no longer a closet but a cave.
Deep and infinitely dark.
As Jesus spoke to me and I reached inside me to find the answers, I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father. . . .
At first it felt like an exercise, saying it to prove that I knew it.
Just words. Memorized. Repeated out loud.
I noticed that I was surprised when I finally opened the box and found not shapeless echoes that flitted about me, but actual shapes. And colors.
Evil I could actually touch.
Who art in Heaven. . . .
I knew that I could hear the questions of Jesus.
I knew that I was listening to my own words of the Lord’s Prayer.
But I was, really, frozen in the experience of the box.
Hallowed be thy name. . . .
I said the prayer over and over and over again.
Another surprise was in remembering that soon after I had opened this box in reality I was peeling carrots. Transferring wet clothes from the washing machine into the dryer.
Stooping over with a ripped piece of paper towel to blot up the remains of a squashed bug that had been carried in on the bottom of a shoe.
Thy kingdom come. . . .
As I watched the evil in the box, lying there, fully satisfied in its existence, the questions of Jesus faded away.
The Lord’s Prayer became a slower recitation. Jerky.
Thy will be done. . . .
Later in the night I would sing to the children before they went to sleep.
I saw that the words of Over The Rainbow had changed their meaning for me for all time.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
And the prayer changed. Its meaning. Its purpose.
The words became sponges.
Each word of the prayer absorbed a spurt of emotion.
Like blood at a crime scene.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Does it really say that?
How can it possibly tell us to do that?
At the bottom of Pandora’s box lay hope.
At the base of our souls breathes God.
And deliver us from evil.