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What if everything is a call to prayer?

call to prayer

Sandia Mountains at sunset

“What if everything is a call to prayer?

These were the words my good friend and spiritual mentor, Rev. Marchiene Rienstra, posted on Facebook recently.  Here is her full post:

“I grew up in Pakistan and India, where five times every day, the call to prayer would ring out from a nearby minaret. I have often wished that we had that kind of reminder to turn our hearts and minds to God in this country.

“But recently I was struck with this thought, one I hope you ponder with me: “WHAT IF EVERYTHING IS A CALL TO PRAYER?
The news. Phone calls. Food. Sleeplessness. A tree. Clouds.
Driving. Beauty. Headaches. Conversation. Quarrels. Doubts.
You get the picture…….”

What a beautiful thought. What a revelation in our lives if we were inspired to pray many times in a day.

Not out of need and fear, but rather out of feeling the inspiration to communicate with the Higher Power that surrounds us. And to bless the people that call on the phone, the trees and the earth, our family and even strangers.

I recently moved to a lovely little town in New Mexico, and the view out my window is of the Sandia Mountains.

They are magnificent, magical, big and beautiful.

The Sandias are the eastern gateway to Albuquerque and look down over the city like an ever-present guardian. Their highest point is Sandia Crest, 10,678 feet high!

Each time I see them I am in awe. They look different depending on the time of the day. Sunrise and sunset times can be particularly wonderful, as the light illuminates their majesty.

When I look at the Sandias I am humbled. They seem to say, “I am here to support and inspire you. I have been here forever and will be here long after you are gone. Your problems today will be gone tomorrow. Drink in my strength and know that you can conquer any problem.”

It does inspire me to pray, particularly a prayer of gratitude.

Find calls to prayer around you

Each one of us has something around us that can be this source of inspiration, strength and call to prayer. Just look. It doesn’t have to be a big mountain. It can be a small rock, an ant, or a plant. A leaf on a tree.

My spiritual father, Lakota elder Wallace Black Elk, said, “Every blade of grass has a name and a song.”

That certainly makes one stop and think! Imagine having that kind of respect for grass and the natural world.

Spring will be here soon. Start watching the trees and plants around you. New buds will be forming. What a miracle that is.

At the moment, most of my garden looks not quite alive and I wonder if all the plants are going to survive the winter.

Every time I walk through it, I say a little prayer for them to not just survive, but to thrive. I hope and think it helps. [That and water in the desert!]

Learn about your environment. That’s what native people have always done. They have stories carried down for generations about every square foot of land:

  • Who are the spirit keepers?
  • What is the medicine that plant brings?
  • Where do these waters originate and what gifts do they bring?

The seasons, weather, sky, fire, thunder beings all hold symbolism and teachings, and are celebrated in ceremony, dance and song.

In the Seneca language, the term for the Thunder Beings means “they spread the word around.” That reflects thought and appreciation for the fact that thunder rumbles around as if it’s saying something. It probably is!

Sadly, western culture has little of that. We have lost touch with the magic and miracle of the earth. Perhaps that is why most humans have too little regard for caring for her.

I love reading Tony Hillerman’s books about Navajo police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Hillerman passed away a few years ago, but the series is being continued by his daughter Ann.

One of my favorite features of the Hillerman books is the explanation of Navajo land and customs. All land is sacred to the Navajo, who recognize that the land is the source of all life.

They designate six sacred mountains, ceremonial sites, offering places, the Navajo Emergence place, clan origin places and more.

Many have heard that the Black Hills in South Dakota and Wyoming are sacred to the Lakota, but may not know why.  Oglala Lakota historian Charlotte Black Elks says, “All of the universe holds a song. All of the songs of the universe are located in the Black Hills.”

The Lakota call them “Paha Sapa” which means “hills that are black.”

About the view from my window

To the people of Sandia Pueblo, the Sandia mountains are sacred. It is the source of Pueblo spirituality, as well as plants and animals critical to their survival in the desert.

In Spanish, sandia means watermelon. It’s popularly believed to refer to the pink glow on the mountains at sunset, like in the picture above.

The Sandia Pueblo Indians sometimes call the mountain Bien Mur, meaning “big mountain.”

Nature by itself is healing. Many, many years ago I read a story of a young boy from the inner city in New York who had the opportunity to go to summer camp. During the trip, he was mauled by a bear! While he was recuperating in the hospital, the only request he made was, “When can I go back to camp?”

That is an astounding example of the healing power of nature, which we often take for granted.

Learn about the land, animals, trees and plants where you live. They have their own nations, relationships, language. If you can tune into that in your quiet prayer time, your life will indeed be enriched.

And hopefully, it will also be a call to prayer.

Molly Larkin
 

Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller "The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman”  and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com

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