Whenever I pray in color or pray in any other way, distractions come. Maybe other people are not so prone to these outbreaks of attention loss; but I like to think I’m not alone in this dilemma.
In my prayer drawings/doodles, I now include the distractions as part of the picture. Down at the right-hand corner of the paper, I have a list of words. Whenever a recurring thought pops into my head, I write it in the parking lot for distractions–an expression my friend Kathy coined to name the box designed for my verbal prayer intrusions. Most of the time the list includes things like: buy basil, pay the power bill, write an article, send a birthday card to ________….
Last Sunday at a workshop I co-facilitated outside of Seattle, I led participants through a Praying in Color exercise. We were all drawing and praying on our pieces of paper for people we had named aloud. I drew at an easel in front of the whole group. During the prayer time, ideas of things I wanted to share with workshop participants about Praying in Color popped into my head. I wrote them in the parking lot. Because I wrote them down I could let them go and continue to pray.
Then I became aware of another distraction. This one wasn’t about the workshop or some practical task I needed to do. I was having an open bout of resentment. It had nothing to do with anything related to the day or the workshop. It was unfinished feelings about a recent experience in my life. I didn’t want to ignore the resentment, but I didn’t have the time to deal with it. I needed to be present for the workshop. So I wrote the word RESENTMENT in capital letters in the parking lot. Unlike some of the practical things in my parking lot, it’s not some task I can complete and check off at the end of a prayer time. But it is something I want to address head-on. Writing down the word RESENTMENT will keep it from sneaking up on me unbidden. With some long-term therapy with God I will deal with it.