Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Project Prayer - Part Two

"Praying" is a pretty loaded word. It used to make me feel a little uncomfortable, which is one of the reasons I chose it as the focus of this project - I wanted to explore the discomfort and figure it out. I was going to write quite a bit about my own thoughts on prayer, in fact I have already started a post about it, but then I decided not to publish it just yet... since what I want first off is to know what others think. I will post mine in a while, once I have collected responses from you guys.
What I am most interested in, for this project (and in general) is people's ideas about prayer that have little or nothing to do with organized religion. I would like to know about the personal, private, creative ways that people pray, rather than the more conventional, by-the-books ways that they were taught.
Bear in mind that I have basically no religious education and so some of those more traditional prayer practices will be unknown to me anyway - so if that is what does work for you then let me know about that too! These are the questions I have in mind, although feel free to respond in different ways if that makes more sense for your responses:

1. What does the word "prayer" mean to you?
2. What does your practice of prayer look like? Is it confined to a quiet, meditative state or a conversation with a higher power or is it a wild dancing party? If you don't pray, why not?

3. Who (or what) do you pray to? Is there a particular deity, body part or universal image that resonates for you? Why do you suppose this is so?
4. What has influenced your practice of prayer?
5. How has your practice of prayer changed your life, if at all? Do your prayers "come true"
or do you see them working in some other way?

Please feel free to leave me your responses in the comments (though that doesn't seem to be the popular option with my blog!) or email me at the address listed in the contact section (people never put their email addresses in the text and I think it is to avoid spam... good plan).

I am planning on including any responses to the questionnaire in my final project. I will not be publishing any of people's personal email responses here. There is a small possibility that so
me of the final projects will be included in a short publication entitled "Stories from Montreal" which my university creates from undergrad work every year. All this is just to say that if you do send me a response (and I would love it if you did!) please let me know if you give permission for your responses to be included in either my project (likely only ever read by me and my prof) or in the book (likely only read by me, my prof, the other editors and future undergrads who are forced to buy it) or both. Also, please let me know if you would like your name to be included (just first name) or if you would like to remain anonymous. Both options are totally fine, I am not obligated to give any identifying info about my respondents. If you have any questions about the nature of the project, the publication, my university (including the ethics board) or anything else please feel free to ask.

Thanks!!! Can't wait to hear what people have to say. The project is due at the end of March, so I will be happy to receive replies right up until then. (Well, I would still be interested/happy to get replies after that, they just wouldn't be included in this project).

If your response is "no way, praying is not my thing at all" that is just as valid and interesting for me, so please don't exclude yourself for that reason! Instead, I would love to hear why you feel that way, and what your thoughts are on the topic. Remember, that is where I was coming from too, originally.
If you know anyone else who you think would be at all interested in responding to the questionnaire please feel free to spread it far and wide. I am just casting my net and will be happy to get as many replies as I can.

Photos: both from the playing-around session the other day... the view out my kitchen window and a close-up of one of my favorite candle-holders with a lovely-smelling beeswax candle glowing away.

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