In “Thomas Merton In Alaska – The Alaskan Conferences, Journals, and Letters”, a record of talks, notes, and journal entries that Thomas Merton wrote in 1968, shortly before he passed on, he teaches us about prayer: “You don’t get to God through a system. You speak from your heart”.
Mary Oliver begins the poem “Six Recognitions of the Lord” (“Devotions”) with a similar teaching:
I know a lot of fancy words.
I tear them from my heart and my tongue.
Then I pray.
The Tatar-American poet, Adnan Onart, writes “The Morning Prayer”, and takes us beyond words:
In a poor Istanbul neighborhood,
at the ground floor of our house,
my great-grandmother says:
It is time for morning prayer.
If you pray, she says, pure as a child,
from this corner of the room,
an angel will appear.
I am five years old closing my eyes.
Essallamü alleyküm ve rahmetullah.
I am fifty opening my eyes.
In Boston, Massachusetts,
in a not so poor neighborhood
at the top floor of our house
praying my morning prayer.
From that corner of the room,
my great-grandmother appears.
It appears that the sky has been praying all night, and the sun is appearing in a corner…..