I was in the kitchen the other morning preparing lunch for a guest and myself and in that space I encountered a moment of recognition and connection. At a pause in the work I found myself moving to stand on the mat by the sink and with my back to the sink I look out the window and pray. This has become a regular practice for me. While I am waiting for water to boil or onions to saute my feet often end up on the cushioned mat and I pray.
My prayers are the prayers that come to me throughout my day. They are simple two-line breath prayers that I slowly repeat.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me a sinner.
O God, come to my assistance,
make haste to help me.
Give me ears to hear the heavenly voice
and courage to answer the call.
Open the door of my heart,
that I might receive you this day.
That specific morning the recognition dawned on me – “Oh, this is my prayer mat.”
I know that the use of a prayer mat is common in many traditions but I had given little thought to their use, or that I might be using one. With this recognition I now have an inkling of the experience of the prayer mat as a site of devotion and meeting with God. It demarcates a space that is a private temple where we go to talk with God. As a place where we put our feet it speaks to me being grounded and still. As someone who is nurtured by Benedictine spirituality my prayer mat in the kitchen speaks to me of the connection of work and prayer.
After our meal was complete, I stood on the same mat, this time turned around to face the dirty dishes and like Brother Lawrence I continued my ongoing little conversations with God.