Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I Do Instead of Praying...[Save Me From The Giggle Loop]

I was on the bus today, thinking about all the times that I have bowed my head in pretended prayer in my life. I had assumed that pretending to pray/going through the motions is what is expected of me.

On the bus today, though, I had an epiphany: this could actually be offensive. I mean, everyone else assumes I am just like them, over here with my head bowed, solemn expression, having my own private talk with God. Except I'm not, because I don't believe there is even a God to listen to me, and even if He did exist, he would think that my thoughts were the worst, ever.

Mostly, during these moments of silence/contemplation/group prayer, I have one internal objective.

Do not think anything that could start a giggle loop:

[Warning: to know about the giggle loop is to become a part of the giggle loop]

So without further ado, this is what I'm doing while pretending to pray in different siutations
 1. The before meal prayer
This one is probably the most straightforward of them all. Basically, while something is talking about whatever, and yes, I did just call a prayer "whatever," I'm thinking something along the lines of this:
Hungry. Hungry.  Hungry. Hungry. Restrain yourself. Hungry. Hungry. Salivating. Hungry. Restraint. Restraint. Hungry. 
 You know. Until the prayer is done. Because I'm hungry, and the food is all on the table (we can't pre-pray for this? Like when its cooking? Get it out of the way?) and one of the reasons I don't argue with the prayer is that even though the prayer is taking up precious moments when I could be stuffing my face, the argument would take even longer.

The thing is, if I wasn't to hungry to restrain my thoughts, I would try to think about the gratefulness of having a meal in front of me. Generally, this is what I do after meals: be thankful that my life's circumstances have allowed me to eat so generously. 
2. Moment of silence for the recently departed
 This obviously isn't so much about praying as the one before. No one commands you to think about any Gods. I prefer to think of it as recreational sad time. I really, really try to think good thoughts about the person I knew who has now died.

This gets complicated when I don't know the person. Then I try to think good thoughts about the person that I know that is affected.

But there are moments of silence when I don't have any connection to anyone involved whatsoever, and these fill me with the greatest sadness. In my recreational sad time, I hear the sad story and all I am thinking about is how awful it is. Recreational sad time imagination exploits this for all the awfulness it can get out of it. Immediately confronted in my own head with an imaginary drama. Without the structure of prayer, my mind seizes onto the worst of the imagery. And then instead of the aforementioned giggle loop, I'm trying not to loudly sob at the loss. This could possibly be worse than a giggle loop, because I have no connection whatsoever to the people who are actually hurting.

[Edit: I thought more about this, and its mostly because I don't know anything about this person whatsoever except their tragedy. And social construct demands that I think about this person, so I'm left with their tragedy. It'd be nice if I got thrown a bone, like, "Mildred, who died this week at 67 after living a nice full life in Friendship Heights," so my mind could be like "Full life! Nice section of town!" But no, Mildred died, please pray for her immediate family....so all I think about is people who loved this lovely Mildred person and no longer have her in their life.]
3. Random "Let Us Pray" moments
This is maybe the worst of them all, because these are the most susceptible to laughter. Thankfully, they don't come up accept in religious environments. But I do run into them.

Occasionally, I go to churches. My boyfriend is into Unitarian Universalism, and honestly, if I were to enter any house of worship, I'd prefer it be a UU church. The last wedding I went to had a "Let Us Pray" moment too.

There are generally stages to the madness that goes on in my brain during a "Let Us Pray" moment:

The Stage Where I Try To Think About Something Positive

Work hasn't been so bad lately. I had a really good hamburger last week. My commutes been going smoothly. I read a really awesome book yesterday

The Stage Where I Treat This Like A Shooting Star

I would like a raise, lose twenty pounds, win the lottery, be generally awesome, get new chapsticks, write in my blog more often....

The Stage Where I Begin To Wonder When The "Let Us Pray" Will end

So....how long are we going to sit here and do nothing but be quiet?

The Stage Where I Sneakily Look Around The Room

Yeah, everyone looks like they're still praying

Generally, this is the part when prayer gets ended. But who's timing it? Is the person in charge just waiting until they feel like they've got all their prayers in, or do they have a timer going? If its the former, is it one of those things where the more practice you have, the more efficient you are? Or is it more like endurance, like because you pray like, all the time, you can go for longer? And is it really fair to put me against that standard, the equivalent of a prayer couch potato?

Anyway. None of this is shocking. I'm not deliberately thinking of SINS AND HOW MUCH I LOVE SINNING during prayer, because it doesn't seem worthwhile; it would only be minimally rewarding, because I would be the only one to know. And, after all, if they are the type to care about that, they are certainly the type to be pissed that I'm mimicking prayer instead of doing the real thing.

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