A Favorite Prayer

Sr. Joan Chittister was one of nearly a hundred prominent men and women from every religious tradition and region of the world to share a favorite prayer and offer their own reflections on its meaning in the book, A World of Prayer: Spiritual Leaders, Activists, and Humanitarians Share their Favorite Prayers, edited by Rosalind Bradley, Orbis Books 2012.

I bow to the one who signs the cross.
I bow to the one who sits with the Buddha.
I bow to the one who wails at the wall.
I bow to the OM flowing in the Ganges.
I bow to the one who faces Mecca,
whose forehead touches holy ground.
I bow to dervishes whirling in mystical wind.
I bow to the north,
to the south
to the east,
to the west.
I bow to the God within each heart
I bow to epiphany,
to God’s face revealed.
I bow. I bow. I bow.

—Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB

I chose this prayer because it points us all to the awareness that it is an enlightening excursion, this wandering into the spiritual insights of other whole cultures, other whole intuitions of the spiritual life, other whole traditions of holy ones. It depends for its fruitfulness on openness of heart and awareness of mind. But the journey is well worth the exertion it takes to see old ideas in new ways because it can bring us to the very height and depth of ourselves. It can even bring fresh hearing, new meaning to the stories that come down to us through our own tradition.

My prayer is that those who make the journey become aware of our God, our world, in whole new ways for that is the one great task of life. May the effect of saying such a prayer be an enlightening one. May it awaken in you that which is deeper than fact, truer than thought, full of faith. May it remind us all that in every human event and culture and history and revelation is a particle of the Divine to which we turn for meaning in this life, to which we tend for fullness of life hereafter.