Guest Post — Prayer of Recollection: The Taking Back
I’m a fan of the “Longmire” series, on Netflix. It’s about a Wyoming sheriff whose jurisdiction includes a Cheyenne Reservation. Season 4 presents a multi-episode story of a young Cheyenne woman, Gabby, and the aftermath of the rape she experienced. Episode 6, titled “The Calling Back,” depicts the women of her community holding a Sweat Ceremony.
Gabby’s Cheyenne name is Morning Star. I quote briefly from this episode, the words of the leader of the Sweat, as they are gathered in a closed tent, women gathered in a circle around a fire:
“Morning Star, part of you was taken away.
Someone took what did not belong to them.
That part of you is now wandering and lost.
This is why you feel like you do not belong.
I’m now going to call that part of you back.
Come back Morning Star, Come back Morning Star,
Come back Morning Star. Morning Star, call yourself back.”
The scene is powerful and beautifully filmed.
On a similar theme, I have been reading St. Teresa of Avilla and Caroline Myss. Myss is a fan of Teresa of Avilla and wrote, Entering the Castle as a guide book to understanding Teresa’s The Interior Castle.
Myss describes 3 types of prayer: Repetitive Prayer, The Prayer of Recollection and the Prayer of Contemplation. When I first read her description of the Prayer of Recollection I immediately thought of Gabby and the Longmire Sweat Ceremony.
To paraphrase Myss, she says this type of prayer is the first step after progressing from Repetitive Prayer. This is where you, like Gabby/Morning Star, re-collect yourself. You gather parts of yourself that have been lost, forgotten, given away or taken. In this prayer you examine/confess your weakness and struggles. This is the prayer where you come to know yourself in Christ by getting your ego out of the way. You must be open to self-reflection, exploration and to the Lord’s conversation with you. You find the Lord reviving the kindness and goodness within you.
At first pass this may sound abstract. With time and practice it is achievable.
What parts of you have been lost, forgotten, given away or taken?
Consider your creativity, your sense of humor, your free spiritedness, your trusting self, your willingness to be vulnerable, your ability to love deeply, your delight in music or dance.
What about your home?
Approximately 10 years ago we had some family members living in our home for a prolonged period of time. They had previously been independent but fallen on hard times and we took them in. Eventually I found myself sliding into resentment and frustration. A wise friend said, “It’s time. Tell them it’s time.” She was right. I went home and had a calm conversation with these two people who agreed with me. Within a month they were in their own apartment. I felt I had re-collected the sanctity of my home and my own mental health.
What about your body? I breastfed two children. The first for 15 months and the second for 3 months. My husband lost his job shortly after our second child was born. My plan to work part-time was dashed as he became the stay-at-home parent for the next 2 years and I worked full time, commuting to work. I found it impossible to pump enough milk to satisfy my daughter who was a bigger baby than our first child. I loved breastfeeding our children but I just couldn’t do it anymore. I reclaimed my okay-ness as a mother, regardless of whether I breast- or bottle-fed.
Several years ago I had to switch jobs because my supervisor left our organization. The job I had was eliminated because the supervisor’s niche was not being replaced. I had enjoyed a certain status working with a high level, well-respected person. At the time, it was a deeply traumatic to lose this position where I was on top of my game professionally. I learned many things from the experience: nothing is permanent, change is part of life, there are many other options available, my self-worth is not defined by my job.
It took a long time to get over this loss, but in the end it has been a blessing as I have a better understanding of myself and others. My ego self in my old job was just that. I have finally reclaimed myself professionally but with less external attachment.
What part of you has been lost, forgotten, given away or taken?
Can a Prayer of Recollection help you remember these parts of yourself?
Can you sit in prayer, re-collect yourself, and let the Lord illuminate the way back to him and yourself?
Maureen enjoys time with her family, especially her grandchildren. She enjoys knitting, swimming, walking, talking and contemplating. Artwork by Maureen’s sister representing a woman reincorporating parts of herself while moving into the light.