I have come to believe that the simple rocking chair is a useful tool for contemplative prayer. In an earlier post in this blog, “The Prayer of a Fool”, I said:
“My prayers barely have words anymore. The few words I have are far from adequate to express what I pray. There is little need for words, on my part. I mostly just try to listen. I listen for the rhythm tapped out by heartbeat of creation and feel my own heart resonate. Sometimes, when I get out of the way, I hear the rhythm and tapping feet of the great, mystical, Divine dance.”
Simply listening and getting myself out of the way turn out to be a rigorous discipline that I have a difficult time maintaining. It is hard for me to flush the concerns of the day from my mind. It is not natural for me to let thoughts go unexamined or unevaluated. Quieting myself so that I can begin to hear the rhythm of the Divine dance, is a delight more rare than I imagined.
Rocking chairs help me. I don’t sit still all that well. Fidgeting is distracting and invites other thoughts that I then must let go. The simple, gentle motion of the rocking chair provides just enough non-distracting physical motion that aids in quieting my mind and heart. It’s soothing. It occupies my body just enough that I don’t fidget and invite the other distractions in.
I believe that the rocking is soothing because it mimics the rhythm we first experienced in the womb. It was our experience before we had any language. Before language, our thoughts must be much simpler. In many ways, I believe, our adult language is a limiting factor that must be overcome before this kind of prayerful communion is possible for me. Before language, we don’t have that distraction.
Also, in the womb we must have had a very much simplified concept of self. Unable to sustain our selves separately we are more open to simply receiving without question, exception or qualification. Before we have a developed sense of self, it seems that it should be so much easier to empty our self and join the dance of all that is.
Rocking chairs, I believe, are another gift by the grace of the Divine.