Do you remember the Tom and Jerry cartoon where Jerry’s a Musketeer, and he gets his nephew Nibbles as an apprentice? Nibbles begins, “Bonjoooour, Monsieur Jerrie!” and then talks and talks and talks and talks and talks….
(at about 1:07 you’ll see what I mean.)
Yesterday I mentioned that book on prayer divides it into four types: adoration, penitence, gratitude and petition. On reflection, I realized the author left out my primary mode of prayer: blather.
Early on I realized that God knew He was great, and I didn’t want to sound insincere. (Seriously, don’t tell me that’s stupid. I know that’s stupid. I’ve been told that’s stupid. God knows I’m sincere and I can’t possibly flatter God. I’ve got that. I still have a mental block.)
But I also wanted to move toward “disinterested prayer” (ie, not treating God like the Almighty Bellhop, as Nina says) and I figured the best way to do that was gratitude and penitence. Except after a while, of course, even God would get fed up with endless “I’m sorrys” and “I’m a slug” comments. So I worked on thankfulness, except that slipped out of past tense right into present.
Hence: blather. I talk to God about random stuff. Whatever. “Hey, God, look how pretty that is!” “God, this is so much fun.” “God, I don’t really want to do the vacuuming now. But I guess the vacuum fairies haven’t shown up for the last 14 years, so they’re unlikely to do so today either. Now, where’s that hose attachment…? Oh, there it is. Thanks.”
You can see that’s not really prayer. And God’s not actually the one who got the brunt of this. My guardian angel was the special recipient of this treatment, during one very tender year where I started talking to him nine days after my sixteenth birthday and stopped for breath when I was almost eighteen. Those were the days when he’d realize I was about to wake up, pop three Excedrin, set his watch alarm for six hours, and then put the bottle and a travel cup into his pocket.
(You think I’m kidding. Track the angel down in heaven when you get there and ask him if I’m kidding. Bonjoooooour, Monsieur Angel!)
(In the interests of fairness, I think he wants me to tell you that I am, in fact, kidding, and I did not really annoy him continuously for nearly 24 months.)
Who else got this? St. Raphael the Archangel appeared before God in early 1992, I imagine, shaking and pale. He looked God in the eye on the Throne of Glory and whispered, “She talked for 45 minutes. And she only wanted a date for Valentine’s Day.”
And God folded His angel in his arms and said, “There, there. I’ll give her a husband, how about that? Then she won’t bother you for a date for Arbor Day.”
My point being: blather. Chatter. Talking because talking can make you closer to someone, and banter is one way I say “I love you,” and it isn’t really in any of the four categories of prayer used by sensible, sane, holy people.
I hope God is amused, at least.
When an acquaintance of mine phones and goes on and on and on … I usually take a pillow, sit in my favourite armchair and wrap myself in a blanket … and every now and then I say: “Ehein … yes … hmmm … I understand …” and so on.
Best one-way conversation we ever have … lasts about an hour at a time sometimes.
As for my Guardian Angel … well, he’s working overtime looking after me. Thank God.
The pillow/drone/mm-hmm phenomenon might have been why the angel eventually started talking back. It was self-preservation. 🙂
I LOVE THIS. I do it, too. I think it’s a less intellectual form of the Practice of the Presence of God, no? 🙂
I mean really. I think God prefers that we talk to Him than not, right?
A good friend does a thing we refer to as “chittering” when she comes home from school/work/errands/etc. It’s named after the chittering that guinea pigs do to each other when one returns to the group – the returning pig chitters for a while to the others. (Telling about adventures in the back yard? Making random noises? No idea. But it seems to be a social thing for them.) When a human does it, it’s just sort of an output dump of what happened that day.
Her brother used to be annoyed by this because he thought he had to pay close attention to everything, offer advice on situations, etc. until we told him no, you just have to make appropriate noises such as “hmmm” or “gahk” or “cool” at various points in the chittering. You don’t have to pay close attention; you don’t even have to put down the book you were reading. Just understand it for what it is – not so much information as reconnection. Chittering.
My son does this. Sometimes I let him. Other times I point out I’m not even in the room and can’t even hear him clearly. Other times I remind him to check the audience’s body language — are they still interested? It’s a way he reinforces what he’s reading or thinking, and a way for him to connect with us. I rather like the parallel. As parent, in some ways I stand in for God for him.
I blather, too, but as parent I think (at least at the time) that I’m conveying useful Life Lessons that, if he listens, he can learn the easy way. It’s probably chittering. (I like that word.)
And checked my reading notes, found the first comment:
Yes, God knows he’s awesome. Maybe the purpose of adoration is to remind yourself that He’s awesome, and to relax in the comfort of knowing that Awesomeness exists, and that He likes to hear from you.