Preparing by rote:
As a child raised in the Catholic Church, I was trained to “prepare for Communion” by going to confession on Saturday whether I had sinned or not. It was embarrassing to go out into the pews and say prayers in penance, especially, if they involved a whole rosary. There were a lot of jokes about who finished praying first. The longer the penance, the more sins you must have confessed! My family also got good at figuring out which priest doled out the most or least prayers at confession.
Preparing in the wilderness:
My first deeply felt “preparation” for the Creator was experienced in a mini vision quest in the wilderness. We met as a group after sunset and participated in a Sacred Native American Pipe Ceremony in silence. We then walked in silence to a Sacred Hill and found a private spot to sit and pray.
We had been instructed to “open our hearts, and allow the Creator to see all of us, and to understand nothing would be hidden. We were being scrutinized by the Creator. How scary is that? After offering this up in prayer, our prayers were to ask “how can we best serve our people, as individuals and as a group?”
The biggest lesson from that night was the feeling of “unconditionally love.” It was too personal to share details, but what happened that night will remain in my heart forever as a deep and profound connection to God.
Preparing in the NOW:
Having experienced that deep connection, I have become very aware of times when I lose it. Life events can so easily distract! So I have developed routines of reading inspirational material, the Bible, and finding some time every day to visit the natural world, the wilderness.
I am reminded that Jesus went to the wilderness. In a Native American vision quest, we “cry out to the Creator.” If I want to maintain this relationship, I must prepare every day, by opening my heart to receive grace and by listening with my heart for what my “purpose beyond self ” is, and where I can best serve God.