“I Dont Play With Prayer”

August 1, 2023

By Mike McQuillan

Tree’s lean limb splits rain. Pulsing branches withstand wind.
Wing chair beckons my slim form to slide inside its pale blue frame for peace.

Meditation’s softened eyes caress nature’s arts. Trusted time sifts passing thought,
Extracts city noise this Sabbath. Engines roar; jet creases sky.
Car door slams. Tenacious neighbor vacuums corners, bangs.
Foot-race runners’ strides strike pavement, pounding near.
Loved ones’ ardent voices cheer.

Drivers denied highway lanes stack up down narrow streets.
Apartment buildings’ brick facades block honking horns’ cacophonies.
Practiced patience from subway platforms or market checkout lines
Shrink irritants’ effects. I count tiles on station walls,
Pretend a verdant meadow’s breeze skims cheeks.
Mind constructs task; is perception God-sent?


The last straw rage that others feel no longer lives in me.
I’m active with committees that pursue the common good.
I strategize with partners to accomplish what we should.
Vapid words of politicians fade like snowflakes on my sleeve.
As to whether the Yankees win or lose? It’s did they play with
Artistry and effort or in the late innings fade away.

Could they come back, resilient, as the other side held sway?
Did they rally, resolute, or cash in chips that day?
How can I infuse those values through the quest that I pursue?

I stretch my arms, flex my shoulders as if in an athlete’s pregame drill.
But I don’t play with prayer.


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In the center of one’s nothingness, one meets the infinitely real,
Merton wrote before his untimely demise.

Shorn of ego’s fearful impulse one alone with God perceives
An essence not an image, infused and not transacted.

Ungodly arrogance attends my supposition. To grasp God’s provenance
Has challenged sages’ lives. I by contrast have an infant’s forming mind.

Some words shed light while the heart asserts that what I seek requires
Shelving safe routines.

Take a chance for the truth! Halt the analytical detail.
To grow conscious of my breathing dispels the need to know.

Eyes return to tree limb. Its rhythms soothe the soul.
A settled mind accepts its limits, for I’m a pilgrim searching.

Prayer is where I go. No Sharpie notes in pockets have I
For the One within the mist. No plea, request, or expectation

Would attend immersion in God’s glory should that wonder come.
I would scale the gilt-edged sunset summer cloud

That is in the realm of crystal sky to see its other side.
Imagination claims that’s where God’s essence lies.

Michael McQuillan

Michael McQuillan, former US Senate aide, Peace Corps Volunteer, and history teacher honored by the Anti-Defamation League and Brooklyn Council of Churches, chaired the NYPD Training Advisory Council’s Race Subcommittee and serves on the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue’s Social Justice Committee. The Write Launch, Dillydoun Review, and Tikkun have published him.

Related: Look for more articles by Mike McQuilan on Micheal’s World.

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