The first day of winter, and a mild but still wintry looking day - the trees and grasses a little bleak.
The news this week also a little (a lot) bleak: unprecedented and seemingly catastrophic bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and all that it signifies about what we are continuing not to do to respond to climate change.
I feel oppressed and made powerless by the huge inertia pervading our politics and economic life in the face of all this. And I wonder about prayer and its effect. Can praying make a difference?
Two things seem true to me. One is that consciousness or awareness affects the field of energy. The second is that the quality of consciousness or awareness is internally related to the quality of attention. We know this in our experience. When someone pays true attention to us, is aware of us and present to us, then our well-being is affected. Something life-giving seems to happen in the energetic field.
Simone Weil says that prayer is about attention. It's the willingness to be present to, to pay attention to the other, free of self-regard or self-consciousness. Sometimes I get the sense that it's about being consciously available as place, a channel for the life-sustaining and renewing energy of the Creator in the world. The Spirit praying within us with sighs too deep for words.
To offer myself as that place requires being with the pain of it all - the suffering of the world, and my own grief and fear. What's important is not to dramatise and get in the way, and at the same time not to avoid and deny. It's rather bearing with, enduring, undergoing. There's energy in that, I sense - it's the work of redemption.