*Brian Wilcox 'Atlantic Coast - in Coastal Maine'
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A beginner in meditation said to the Sage, "I'm trying to quiet myself, but keep getting distracted by noises. What am I to do?" The Sage told the following tale.
A monk, Brother Bruno, was praying prayers, and he could hear the frogs croaking loudly. He tried to focus on his crucifix and began reciting the prayers audibly and increasingly louder. The plan failed. At last, he bellowed, "Silence! I'm praying!"
Brother Bruno's orders inspired respect, seeing he was a holy man. All was quiet in the marsh. The frogs had stopped croaking, the herons' beaks were closed, the flies were not buzzing, and the wind had fallen silent.
Contented, the monk returned to his prayers. Suddenly, he heard an inner voice, "What if the Creator derived greater pleasure in the croaking of the frogs than in your praying?" Alarmed, the saint replied, "But what can God find pleasing in a frog croaking? What's more, so loudly? Anyway, why did God create noise?" He heard no reply and felt the inner voice had corrected his misunderstanding.
Brother Bruno returned to his prayers, allowing nature its way. He welcomed the chanting of the birds, insects, frogs, and wind. Soon, he could feel his spirit moving in accord with the universe.
From that day, Brother Bruno prayed ceaselessly, for all about him was prayer, and he, too, was that same prayer. And whenever he heard the croaking of frogs, he recalled the day he learned the joy of worshiping as one with all the sounds, sights, and scents about him.
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The human species may be the only species able to choose to pray. A frog prays by croaking, the wind by its movements, the Sun by shining, and a river by flowing. That prayer must be a conscious act - that is, one must think he or she is praying to pray - is an assumption and gives prayer and worship a narrow, human-centric meaning. Who provides the human species the right to define prayer in a way excluding other species, seen and unseen?
Still, the human can choose to pray conscious of it being prayer, unlike other aspects of nature, it appears. Consequently, the human can decide not to pray, being the single species that can defy its place in and response to Life. Furthermore, the human can choose to include nature in worship, with its worship being his or her worship too.
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Prayer, spoken or unspoken, speaks to our relationship with Life and all in It. Silence is not the exclusion of anything; silence is a way of including everything as belonging together, for we are together. One will always be in prayer when welcoming everything as a manifestation of one Life.
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(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020