everyday divinity

(Alanda Greene responds to the divine mother prayer—as adapted from the ananda lahari)

handwriting ian cullivan Cant

I’d first heard this prayer read aloud during Savasana at the end of a yoga class. The last line, May everything I do be taken as Thy worship, prodded my heart and nudged a yearning within me. It evoked longing, the desire to transform my life so that every act would be in service to the Divine. The word “worship” took on new meaning and has evolved to mean, for me, that connection with the divine presence, the longing to know oneness and to serve that consciously.

Decades ago, I saw Robert de Niro play a film role as a priest. As I watched him kneel in solitary prayer before the altar and perform various rituals before images of Mary and Christ, I was touched with a longing for a vocation where I, too, could be surrounded with reminders of the Divine. I naively thought, “Then I wouldn’t forget, wouldn’t be so distracted from practices.” The opportunity to have reminders mirrored back is not to be dismissed. It is a way to foster remembrance and devotion. There is good reason that images and items of ritual are so evident in most religious traditions.

Yet the Sufis teach that the devoted ones walk in the world, live ordinary lives, participate in the events and actions of day-to-day living unremarkably, often unnoticed among others. The difference is that the Sufi “never forgets God for a moment.” Most of us forget a great deal.

The line of the prayer appealed to me as it did, and continues to do so, because it touched the part that longs for that constant remembrance, to sustain the unity and presence that come in glimpses but then recede, leaving the emptiness of loss, the “pain of separation” so often mentioned in mystic writings. My life seemed a long way from that kind of worship, no matter how much I wanted it. What I wanted was for everything I did to be worship.

Then one day I heard the line as it is said. May everything I do be TAKEN as Thy worship. Not that it be worship, but be taken as worship....

Alanda Greene lives in the interior of British Columbia, surrounded by forest and mountains by a large lake. She is interested in her garden, walking in the woods and the relationship between yoga and creative expression.

Copyright ©2007 ascent magazine, first Canadian yoga magazine, yoga for an inspired life