oh my god.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver (The Summer Day)

……..

when i was a child i was taught how to pray.
before meal times. before bed.
in church, multiple times. sometimes in multiple languages.
at weddings. at funerals. baptisms. dedications.
before long road trips.
in hospitals. car accidents. when facing empty bank accounts. any and all uncertainties.
even, in early years, in school, right after the national anthem.

if practice makes perfect, i should have had this nailed by now.

……..

180

……..

somewhere along the way i just stopped talking.
i got tired of hearing prayers said aloud that felt like rambling monologues or speeches; i stopped believing what i was hearing; i had a hard time feeling like any of it really mattered anyhow.
and when it was my turn to kneel and bow, i found myself exhausted by the sound of my own voice. i didn’t want to listen to me anymore, so why would she?

……..

3

” I love to pray at the beach, staring out at the surf and the pelicans, my prayer at those moments ” Oh my God, oh my God.” I try not to bog down on the “my” or “God” part of this prayer. It is the “Oh” that matters, the expulsion of air from the lungs, that occasional gorgeous shock at what tiny molecules of the whole we are, compared with…one of the most beautiful places in the universe.”
-Anne Lamott (Help, Thanks, Wow)

……..

i just finished reading a book about prayer. Anne Lamott wrote it, which is, quite truthfully, the only reason i read it. i trust her. i believe her. i don’t feel like she cares if i agree with her. she has scars and bruises and doesn’t hide the fact that life has been really fucking hard sometimes. she also throws up her hands and says “thank you” a lot, and i really like that.
Anne says that prayer is really just three words: Help. Thanks. Wow.
Spoken to God, or Buddha, or the Universe, or anything outside of, bigger than, ourselves. To light.


” Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers we turn toward light. Light warms, and in most cases it draws us to itself. And in this light, we can see beyond shadow and illusion to something beyond our modest receptors, to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.”

i’m not in the same place that she is. i’m still wrestling with things that she seems to have learned to rest in. but i think i can make sense of her kind of prayer. i think i do it all the time, even if i don’t know who i’m talking to anymore.
i can’t do this alone.
i’m so full of gratitude.
i’m in awe.

i live those three truths every day of my life, on repeat.

……..

32

……..

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”

– Mary Oliver

……..

life has been teaching me a lot about silence. turning down the racket. tuning out the noise. letting go of the clutter that keeps me from hearing and seeing and breathing and daring and being. if anything like a prayer comes out of me these days, it comes out as a whisper. or a standing-still-ness. or a deep breath.
to you, those may not seem like very sacred conversations.
to me, they feel more true than almost anything else i know.

……..

97

……..

all my life i was told to close my eyes to pray. the child me did what i was told. the adult me feels like we all missed the boat. like it sailed right by while we had our heads bowed staring at our eyelids.

when our eyes are closed, we are not looking. we are not seeing.

i want to whisper gratitude while staring wide-eyed at a glacier, or a sunset, or the meadow in early autumn. i want to smile at the food as we bless it. i want to look at every inch of my little nephew Sam, moments after he is born, and be in awe of the miracle that i was just blessed to witness. i want to see and be seen in the eyes of my lover, or my best friend, or my brother, when i confess my feelings of helplessness, my brokenness. i need to see some version of god in their eyes.

why would i look away?

……..

i’m not finished yet.
good lord, i’m just beginning.
but it’s an honest attempt.
and if i believe anything, it’s that that’s enough.

Anne says that saying “Amen” is the same as a quiet, deep breath.
it means truly. truthfully.
there you have it.
so it is.

it’s not an ending.
it’s just a deep exhale.

Amen.

……..

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Subscribe!