Falling and Failing into Love
In many ways prayer—certainly contemplative prayer or meditation—is planned and organized failure. If you’re not prepared for failure, you’ll avoid prayer, and that’s what most people do. Prayer is typically not an experience of immediate union, satisfaction, or joy; in fact, quite the opposite. Usually you meet your own incapacity for and resistance to union. You encounter your thinking, judging, controlling, accusing, blaming, fearing mind. So why pray?
Julian of Norwich, my favorite mystic, uses the word “sin” to mean a state of separateness or disunion. She writes that you become aware of your state of resistance or separateness, and then when you try to sink into the experience of one-ing—Julian’s word for unitive consciousness—you realize you can’t get there by yourself. You can’t make it happen. You can’t make yourself one.
Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love suggests that only in the falling apart of your own foundation can you experience God as your total foundation and your real foundation. Otherwise you keep creating your own foundation, by your own righteousness, by your own intelligent and holy thoughts. Julian describes this reality in terms of what God does: God reveals God’s-self as your authentic foundation.
What we’re doing in prayer is letting our self-made foundation crumble so that God’s foundation can be our reality. Prayer is a practice in failure that overcomes our resistance to union with Love. Let’s fall into and rest in that Love one more time. . . .