Prayers and Meditations

Old Orchard Beach Maine – Photo by Dan Steven Erickson

I have a new side project I’m working on. For a lack of a better name, I’ll simply call it “Prayers and Meditations.”

If you’ve been reading some of my recent essays, you might wonder why I have a project with such a title. Lately, I’ve been deeply considering abandoning the Christian religion 100%. I have not quite said the words “I am not a Christian,” but I am getting closer. Why then, would I be writing prayers and meditations?

Changing habits for the better.

We all have some habits in life that we are not proud of. Maybe you’ve been mean to some people. Perhaps, you read or view media content that might be damaging. You might struggle with addiction. We are human.

In a recent essay, I claimed that in my life, I’ve seen no difference in good things vs. bad things that happen whether or not I’m actively seeking a God or not. This got me to thinking about bad habits. Beginning in the early 1990s, I spent about 20-25 years of my life actively going to church. I also was faithful in prayer and biblical study. Yet, through all of that time, there was probably more heartache than during my lesser-religious periods. Interesting?

No, I’m not blaming religion or God for life experiences. However, there may be an internal flaw in a doctrine that keeps us blinded to our inner selves, and tells us we have to pray harder, or have more faith in something we cannot really prove exists.

Recently, I decided that I want to improve a few personal traits about myself. I want to be more thankful. I want to expose myself to less harmful media. I want to minimize unhappiness. I am in the last quarter of life. So, I want to enjoy it.

I’ve “prayed” for change for years. However, I’m not sure anything really happened any differently than when I didn’t pray. So, I’ve decided to take things into my own hands, call it an experiment. Rather than praying for change, I am going to actively commit myself to change.

Prayers and meditations are guiding comforts.

I have not been actively praying since around the time COVID-19 started. I haven’t been to church since early 2020. I’m not convinced that I need to go back to church or pray religious prayers to get right with God. In fact, I don’t think “God,” (if there is one), requires me to “get right” with him (or her). What we really need to do is get right with ourselves and treat others with kindness. Sound familiar?

I don’t think prayers really work the way most religious people think they work. I’m not convinced there is a bearded man in the sky watching and listening to every little thing that’s happening on Earth. That’s almost ludicrous to think. I only have one living kid and I can’t keep tabs on her every move. I highly doubt that there is a God who answers some prayers while completely ignoring others. But I do believe that words are powerful.

One thing I miss about being a church-going Christian is the ritual of prayer and meditation. Not the religiosity of the prayers themselves, but the words. So, I asked, “what if I started writing my own prayers and meditations in poetic form?” Not prayers to God as we’ve been taught, but prayers to whatever force drives the inner self. Could that be some kind of universal creator? Sure. Could it also simply be our own minds. Yep.

Accepting the mystery of things greater than we can know.

I’ve tried to stay somewhat clear of political and religious conversations since moving to Maine in November, 2022. But recently, I’ve been involved in a few friendly conversations about such topics. In a recent debate about freewill, I made a conscious decision to accept the mystery of all things.

I personally have come to doubt the concept of freewill in its entirety, but who am I to decide? The problem with 99.9% of all arguments, which often lead to fights and wars, is that people want to be right. The other problem with the majority of arguments is that there are never clear black or white answers. The sooner we accept that we can rarely, if ever, be completely correct about anything, the sooner we can let go of the things that cause distress in our lives and in our world.

Ironically, religion keeps people believing in absolutes. That might be causing more harm in our world than good.

A couple of examples of my writing project.

Keep in mind that these are first drafts. But here is what I’m doing. I’m attempting to write a few meditative prayers or poems that speak to the mystery of life and creation. The first is obviously based on the most famous Christian prayer of them all.

Great Creator

Great Creator who is within us
Simply as we are
Let your love light shine, for it is ours
As promised to all humans
Free us today from the chains of oppression
Let us forgive ourselves
As we forgive one another
And we will take responsibility
To do our best to do no evil
For your light and ours is intertwined
And we can never be separated

For Direction

When I am lost
I can find myself
Through the internal compass
That I was given for direction
I have strength
And I am guided
By the atoms that make
Up the sun and the stars and the moon
I will turn within
And to the sky
For direction

There are many more in the works. Who knows, maybe I’ll publish a chap book. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.