Bees aren’t taught the recipe for honey or how to make a hive. They are born knowing. Spiders don’t learn how to create beautiful webs, how to anchor them, how to spin two different kinds of silk-- one sticky and flexible, the other rivaling the strength of steel. They are born knowing. Bears aren’t taught to increase their food consumption and to hibernate for up to eight months straight. They are born knowing. Birds don’t study the architectural or engineering skills they need to build a sturdy and functional nest. They are born knowing. I could go on, but you get my point.
What were we, as humans, born knowing?
Do we still know it or have we forgotten? Is it something that was trained out of us before we knew what was happening? Maybe it disappeared so slowly we didn’t realize we were losing it. Perhaps, like youth, we were neither aware of its possession nor its departure, but now we feel its absence.
I think, maybe, we were all born knowing how to commune with God. Or, as big and as small as the word is, as much and as little as it has come to symbolize, we were all born knowing how to pray.
Picture a newborn. When they are in that liminal space between awareness and sleep, there is a sense of peace, a glow, a split second smirk of a smile when somewhere, on some level, there is communion with something other. As small children, we experienced awe and wonder, a sort of visceral prayer, every time we rejoiced over the discovery of something new. In those moments, we connected with something, with Someone bigger than ourselves.
But that awe and wonder faded as we grew. Praying became less visceral and more cerebral, less of who we were and more of what we did…or it just faded altogether. We learned to listen to other voices and developed interests that tugged at us and stretched us closed.
These days, many of us live with a discomfort, a feeling that something isn’t right. We mask this dis-ease with busyness, laziness, substances, and the like. We forget what we were born knowing.
But we still have it. Inside each of us still resides our innate ability to commune with God. We know how to pray. It can be forever forgotten or it can be rediscovered at the oddest times—when we are close to death or to life, when we experience great tragedy or great joy, on top of a mountain or trudging through a valley, sitting in church or standing on a street corner, or anywhere in between, really.
Rediscover awe and wonder. Follow God's whisper. Remember what you were born knowing.
(Photo Credit: Deb Turnow)
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Nicole Mills is an oncology nurse, cancer survivor, nerd, and contemplative. She has a secret desire to be a nun or a double-dutch jump rope champion. Not being Catholic or able to jump 2 ropes poses significant hurdles, but she remains hopeful.