Last week, I bookended a post with quotes from Pádraig Ó Tuama. He is a poet, theologian, and the leader of the Corrymeela Community in Belfast, a peace and conflict center where a great deal of connection and healing happens daily. I encountered his words while listening to an interview with him on Krista Tippett’s On Being. I cannot recommend this episode of her podcast enough to you.
I listened to the unedited version of this podcast very slowly over the last three weeks. It was the kind of thing I needed to savor, because I found Pádraig Ó Tuama speaking so much needed truth, comfort, and tenderness toward me and the whole audience. I needed all of it.
Today, I want to share some more of his words with you. They are about prayer. He spoke these words at the end of the podcast, and they moved me so much, particularly in the presence of some grief I’ve been feeling alongside others.
Today, I want to say this to any who may need to hear it: Friends, it’s okay to say Hello. It will likely help us, and we do not do so alone. I also believe God greets us as we greet our days. These words —
Neither I nor the poets I love have found the keys to the kingdom of prayer,
And we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit,
I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway.
So every morning, I sit, I kneel, waiting,
making friends with the habit of listening,
hoping that I am being listened to. . .
There, I greet God and my own disorder.
I say Hello
to my chaos,
my unmade decisions,
my unmade bed,
my desire and my trouble.
I say Hello
to distraction and privilege.
I greet the day, and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus.
I recognize and greet
my controlled and uncontrollable story.
my untold stories,
my unfolding story,
my unloved body,
my own love,
my own body.
the things I think will happen,
and I say Hello to everything I do not know about the day.
my own small world,
and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day.
and hope that I can forget my story during the day,
and hope that I can hear some stories,
and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead.
I greet God,
and I greet the God Who is More God than the God I greet,
Hello to you all, I say,
as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.
– Pádraig Ó Tuama