Part 24 in a series; see other parts here.
Prayer can feel like a kind of death. So many of our waking hours, and especially the restless hours of night, we spend shouldering our burdens and trying to take one more step forward, when that is the price of life against the stasis of death. In prayer, though, we let the weight press us down to our knees, and even onto our faces, as we try to lay the burden down before God.
Birds of paradise, native to Indonesia and environs, struck unfamiliar Europeans as reminiscent of the mythical Phoenix, that bird which, at the end of its 500 years of life, would descend into its funeral pyre and be resurrected from the ashes. Prayers in which our self-spark finally seems to flame out do not come every day, thankfully, but the promise of prayer is that the dawn will follow our dark night, that we, like the sun, will rise again.
We hardly feel very glorious, grubbing on our knees in the ashes of our lives, awash in the sooty smell of decay and destruction. Yet we pray in the hope that God can make beauty from ashes, that we will rise from our knees amidst a newly gorgeous spray of plumage, ready to tack into the winds of life on fresh and brightened wings.