Last night at Fuzzy (I’ll explain what that is one day), we were invited to do something that felt all wrong: to write a prayer for ourselves. We were invited to follow the example of the central character in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat. Pray. Love in unashamedly petitioning the universe.
I was in a weird place anyway. I’d just found out that I’d been appointed as the Programme Manager for Greenbelt Festival – an organisation I worked for for five years back in the noughties. I was a little nervous about what people – especially those who knew me in those days – might think about this. And yet I felt a peculiar calm about it all.
Then we got this invitation: ‘take just five minutes to write a stream-of-consciousness petition to the universe, a prayer to God for your hopes for 2011.’ Revulsion about the narcissism of ‘parking-space-praying’ subsided, and the words flooded out. Raw and confessional. But it felt good.
You feel so absent from my life sometimes.
Yet you are the ground on which I stand.
You seem so impossible, so implausible, such a waste of time.
Yet I am utterly comfortable in naming you God, to rest in you.
I want this year to mark a step-change.
I want you to help me step back into the story of my life.
To help me start shaping the narrative, contributing to the script again.
I want this episode to feel just a little more epic, more grand somehow.
Not so domestic. Not that domestic is bad; I have loved my season of domesticity.
But it feels like it’s time to push the boat out again.
To take the path less travelled, to trust just a little bit more.
And what I really need above all else, God, is this:
To sense that Chantal is happy, fulfilled, at peace;
Able to flourish as I am able to flourish.
And for my boys too, as I see them just a little less,
Help me to make my time with them count more,
Without forcing things, recognising it’s time they want, not quality time.
Help my stress at times not to upset their emotional development.
Help them still to depend on me. As I depend on them.
So please step back into my world just a little.
Come out from the shadowy margins.
Let’s do this together, you and I. Absurd as that sounds.
My hope is that this step opens out into a life beyond this year.
That it really is the first step into the next chapter of my life.
(Thanks to Stuart Keegan for the photo. Greenbelt, 2010, Friday early evening.)