The altar where I pray

March 30th, 2009

I do not pray at this altar, where every security is an insecurity, every gain is a loss, givers are takers and enough is never enough.

I do not pray at this altar, gasping for 15 seconds of helium, inflating my ambition into giddy dizziness until it falls as sure as gravity to a distant, forgotten echo.

I do not pray at this altar, a sucker’s bet that masks life’s own majesty with a huckster’s exploitation, hides authentic wisdom with wishful delusion, and undermines trust with fear.

I do not pray at this altar, vesting faith in a celestial heaven, a future judgment to save myself from a hell of my own making.

I do not pray at this altar, to the relic of a stone replica, a lifeless imitation of the truth.

I pray at this altar, to be free of the stain of resentment, the residue of anger, the stubborn scrub of ego’s baked-on bias, and to shine in the clear rinse of awareness, because there is only one place to bring love to this life, and somebody’s got to do it.

Where do you pray?


  1. I love it! I’ve been praying at an altar all day that, coincidentally, looks like yours.

    Comment by Anna — March 31, 2009 @ 1:21 am

  2. I have a little morning ritual. I get up, let the dogs out, then start some green tea. Then Karen makes me think. Or laugh. Or cry. Often, all three. I am grateful.

    Comment by Carol — March 31, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  3. Right on.

    I love it.

    Comment by She She — March 31, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  4. Carol, I love your ritual. But if I make you think, please cut off my head with a pencil!

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 31, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

  5. Mostly in the bathroom, believe it or not. The kitchen is probably a close second.

    Comment by Judy Merrill-Smith — March 31, 2009 @ 5:46 pm

  6. I pray that my dishes will wash, dry, and put themselves away.

    Comment by jena strong — March 31, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

  7. Sweetness in motion.

    Comment by Cat — March 31, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

  8. Hey wait, how did my altar end up in your house? 🙂

    Actually, it’s safe to say that the changing table is my altar these days.

    I have an altar set up on a bookcase that never receives attention or use. Before Claire was born I did use it infrequently. Everything just collects dust. I’m thinking of retiring the pieces when we move.

    Comment by kathryn — March 31, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

  9. Lately, I pray at the altar of small fuzzy things. A new litter of kittens, and two new bunnies at our house. Lots of small and helpless teachers. Gentleness, humility, and the big picture are my lessons of the moment.

    Comment by Jane_hates_Dick — March 31, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  10. I pray on the footpath. I walk and leave my thoughts behind. I put space between me and my feelings. Then I sit on the big rock at the top of the hill in the park, and look out.
    Then I go home to the dirty dishes.

    Comment by myrope — March 31, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  11. [big smile]

    Comment by Teacher Jim — April 1, 2009 @ 12:26 am

  12. love this, karen!
    and hey…that’s the same church i go to right there at bottom. :p (i see the cups-of-joy that overfloweth..HEEE!)

    Comment by kat — April 1, 2009 @ 4:06 am

  13. i’d laugh, but this is my sacred alter of life as well.
    bridge (on vacation in Santa Fe)

    Comment by Anonymous — April 1, 2009 @ 4:42 am

  14. Then I’m sure you’ll make it to Santuario de Chimayo for me.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 1, 2009 @ 4:53 am

  15. Wow, so People magazine has a website .. gossip for free. Now I have something to do besides the dishes.

    Poor sweetie, doncha have a dishwasher? Mean old husband makes you do ’em by hand?


    The only time I’m usually alone and uninterrupted is in the shower. It is my sanctuary and I hide away, whispering and wishing until the water is cold (sorry husband, sorry gas bill).

    Comment by Mrs. B. Roth — April 1, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  16. Right now, at the grave of my “feline soulmate” who recently departed after more than 16 years of companionship. He taught my son gentleness–my little one tenderly touches his head to all the other cats and pats them ever so lightly.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 1, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  17. You must know Mrs. B, my husband has nothing whatsoever to do with the dishes, or the dishwasher, or the sink.

    Yes Anon, animals do truly teach love and then depart for love.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 1, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

  18. I pray in front of a blank piece of paper, holding my paint brush and making a mark. I pray in the silence after my husband has asked me the same question he often asks: “Did you hear me?” I pray at the bathroom sink while my old kitty yowls at the top of her voice for me to turn on the faucet.

    Comment by Angel — April 1, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  19. Going in my top five of Favorite Karen Posts.

    Comment by Kristin H. — April 2, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  20. ahhh. catching up.


    Comment by denise — April 2, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  21. I ran onto your post on antique mommy where you had posted you were 10 weeks and 5 days pregnant and you hoped it went well. i clicked on your profile to try and see if things went ok… i hoped they did… congratulations…. and God bless you…
    It is an awesome gift we have been given to be entrusted with those precious little souls!
    Robin Pyle, Arkansas

    Comment by Anonymous — April 3, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

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