Writing and Prayer: A Meditation

by Jessica Coblentz

There is something about sitting down to write that is like collapsing onto a pew kneeler.

When I was a teenager—an era marked by the interrogation of the Catholic tradition I’d grown up with—someone pointed out to me the correlation between the position of our kneeling bodies in genuflection and the simultaneous orientation of our hearts in relation to God. The ritual of surrendering our bodies onto the stiff kneelers somehow deepens, or enriches, or enables the surrendering of our hearts to God in the sacred space of the sanctuary.

I think the regular practice of sitting attentively before a blank page or an open computer screen has a similar effect on me. Even before I pick up a pen or tap the keypad, I feel something inside me shift when I sit down to write. The words in my head take on a different voice as I lower my body into the desk chair. In situating myself in relation to the bare page, my heart, too, becomes open and vulnerable. My interior voice speaks slower, more honestly.

At my desk and at a sanctuary pew, there is something about the positioning and orientation of my body that affects my heart. If my body can kneel in humility, maybe my heart can too. If I attend to the open page, perhaps I, too, can open my heart. My ritual bodily movement assists me in imagining new possibilities for my interior life.
Then, from that kneeler I begin to pray, and at my desk I begin to write. Both acts are outpourings of my body and my heart’s simultaneous vulnerability. I am trying to express outwardly the interior possibilities that have sprung from ritual—that I might actually be honest, humble, and authentic before God. Few moments in life are as integrated and honest as these.

I keep returning to the pew kneelers for the same reason I keep returning to the blank page: these bodily rituals foster the interior possibility of greater personal authenticity—before God and before others. From the deepening of my interior life springs prayers and written words that, I hope, might bring all of us into richer relationality—God, the reader, and me.

Join me in kneeling and sitting, praying and writing. Do these with all that you are.

Jessica Coblentz is currently pursing her Master of Theological Studies degree at Harvard Divinity School. Follower her writing on the Web at www.jessicacoblentz.com.


One Response

  1. […] Writing and Prayer: A Meditation Published November 25, 2009 Uncategorized Leave a Comment Tags: From the Pews in the Back, Patience, Prayer, The Body, Writing Check out my latest post on From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism, entitled, “Writing and Prayer: A Meditation.” […]

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