I’ve begun to pray again. It started with just the liturgy in church, so more like a once a week thing. Maybe that’s terrible, but it’s the truth. The little bits I was praying in church began to stir inside me and I wanted to pray when I wasn’t in church also. I don’t say the liturgy if I don’t mean it so I was praying those prayers but those were the only ones I was saying. The liturgy was the first, the second was when I would dip my fingers in the baptismal font and make the sign of the cross, which is a prayer in and of itself, a physical prayer that I pray with my body as well as my mind. I started making the sign of the cross at other times too, knowing that when I did it I was praying.
Then I started simple with prayer beads and repeating the same prayers over and over, which was useful in helping me to focus on Christ and not what I was thinking about or wanting. It was a new kind of praying for me and it’s been one of the most effective in my personal worship. There’s something about saying “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” rather than give God a list of what I need and want. After that I learned how to pray using just one word or phrase to describe God and to repeat it over and over, such as “merciful God”. Chanting this phrase or just repeating it over and over in my head helps me to center myself which is something I liked about witchcraft and something I’m glad to learn there is a Christian equivalent for.
No longer do I sit on the grass, asking the elements to help me ground myself and my magic. Instead I repeat a phrase about God and then I’m being grounded while thinking about God rather than magic. There are some nights where I sit and color, praying while I do it, creating something beautiful while I pray. Then there are some nights I am very tired and I roll into bed with just a quick prayer, but that doesn’t happen as much as it used to. Sometimes I burn incense. Sometimes I put on my best clothes and put on my makeup and go and kneel down in front of God with my face on the floor praying. One thing I’ve learned in the Episcopal Church is that there are so many different ways to pray and I was missing out on so many of them. Despite what I thought, prayer is more about God than it is about me, just like everything else in the Christian life.
When I was attending a large evangelical church with praise bands (nothing wrong with them) that was ultra-modern, I wore what I liked to church.These days, although I respect other people’s feelings and would never tell them how to dress for church, I choose to wear the best that I have. Sometimes I’m tempted to wear something just because it shows off my tattoos, or some other frivolous reason like that, but I try not to do that at church anymore.
The reason that I now wear the best that I have to church is because when I go to church, I’m receiving a sacrament. I’m partaking of a holy meal in community with others and I’m partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That’s a pretty big deal. I wear my best because Jesus gave his everything when he shed his blood and allowed his flesh to be mutilated, so that 2000 years later I could eat and drink so that I would never hunger or thirst again. I don’t understand the people who don’t come to church as often as they can because for me, that holy meal is important, it keeps me growing and nourished which is the designated function of food and drink.
I’m a little eclectic in my clothing style just like I am with everything else, but I still wear the best that I have. I might wear dark (gothic) earrings and jewelry, because God created me with this style, but I still wear the best of all that. I try to care about what I wear to church even when I am depressed. When I’m depressed I tend to not care what I wear and usually that means wearing my worst, but I work really hard not to do that at church, because I want to respect the sacrament that I’m partaking of. It’s part of preparing my heart for worship; the clothing that I wear is part of my worship.
For me I wear my best not only because I respect the sacrament, but also because I’m in awe of it, of the fact that Jesus would allow us to continue to partake of his body and blood to give us spiritual food. When I kneel at the altar rail and cup my hands to receive the sacrament, I’m so thankful that I have the privilege of being able to have it. When I kneel at the altar, I’m on holy ground (which means it’s ok if I’m not wearing my shoes because Moses took his shoes off on holy ground…hahahaha) and I want to make sure I’m dressed appropriately for that holy ground and that holy meal. Partaking of the Eucharist is a gift from God, for me I respect that gift enough to make the effort to wear my best clothes. The Eucharist is sacred, I choose to dress like it is sacred.