A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to church with my housemates at a Foursquare church. It was a lively service, very different from my regular Catholic Mass, but similar to past experiences I have had at retreats. I enjoyed the chance to see what my housemates’ church is like and I want to continue to learn about their beliefs and worship. I am interested in ecumenical experiences, which are a big part of CAP since we are all from different faith backgrounds. You definitely do not have to be at your own church to have a religious experience. Jesus said, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” (Matthew 18:20).
I was very fortunate to go to this Foursquare service because I had an epiphany of sorts while I was there. I tend to be skeptical of prayer. I know that is not the ideal attribute of a CAP Volunteer, but maybe that is part of why I am here. I have always felt a little unsatisfied with my own prayer life and I have come to realize that I am unsatisfied because my expectations are unrealistic. This is something that I have struggled with for a long time.
At the Foursquare service the preacher was talking about living a life that is dedicated to God. It has been a few weeks since that Sunday, so I could not tell you the details of the sermon, but at the end, one of the members of the congregation stood up and shared his own epiphany that he had that morning. This man’s epiphany is what stuck with me afterwards. He got up on the stage with a glass of water. The glass was to represent us as individuals and the water is all our ‘stuff;’ our worries and joys. He had another glass, which was empty, and that was to represent God. He brought the glass of water to the empty glass and said that we go to God and pour out our ‘stuff.’ He poured the water into the empty glass. God receives that ‘stuff’ and adds grace or whatever it is that we need, and then pours it back into us. He swished the water around in the ‘God’ glass and then poured it back into the ‘us’ glass.
This was a simple metaphor for what prayer is, but for some reason it provided clarity for me. I do not have to have all the words when I go to God. I do not have to follow any standard form of prayer when I go to God (though I can and I am grateful that my church has given me, what seems like, a thousand ways to pray). I can pour it all out and let God transform me. Or, at least, I can try.
Anna P. is a long-term CAP Volunteer serving as an AmeriCorps Camp Educator/Summer Camp Counselor at Camp Andrew Jackson. She is a member of the Jackson Volunteer Community and is a graduate of Bellarmine University.