Years ago I used Indiana Tulip Poplar to shape bunkbeds for our children. Despite my excellent craftsmanship and years of resting their weary heads in these beautiful berths (made with love, I might add), my children had no desire to add these over-sized billets to their homes. So, I turned the three-decade-old bunks into sawdust and board feet for a new project: A Prayer Rail. I hoped to use this new piece of furniture to get to know God better, setting up a corner for meditation complete with a seat for reading when I wasn’t kneeling, candles and iconography.
Unfortunately, I learned a very hard lesson rather quickly: Kneeling in devotion is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee.
Getting closer to God while on my knees requires a dedication that I apparently do not have. I even added a padding to the rail which did not provide any relief. Rather than focusing on God’s goodness and love, I found myself distracted by my hurting back and aching legs.
And so it wasn’t long before the prayer rail sat abandoned in an attic corner, and my faith life shifted to the couch for morning devotions and hot coffee. It was clear that getting closer to God in the monastic tradition of solitude and postural reverence wasn’t for me.
Despite this disappointing revelation of my spiritual shortcomings, I did learn one thing that has stayed with me for many years. Searching for God’s light and love for my life can and usually does take many forms and positions. It doesn’t have to be at the alter. It can be found at the edge of a lake or a walk in the woods. It is whispered in the gentle rain that falls in early spring, or rumbles and flashes in a summer storm. It is offered freely when I am hurting and alone. It is discovered in the quiet of an art gallery or the raucous worship celebration in a megachurch. God’s light and love is not spoken in a single language and is not limited by physical impairments, a particular time of day, or even a specific location. Getting close to God requires nothing more than my desire to get close to God. It’s that easy.
After much debate, it was decided that the prayer rail should find a new home. For a mere $30 on Facebook Marketplace, someone else will try to find a devotional life that includes hurting knees and a sore back. God bless them in their endeavor. God bless them.