Praying With My Eyes Open

I’m the kind of person who feels like praying with my eyes open is tantamount to asking God to strike me down. Now, if I’m driving, then that rule is obsolete. But I have always felt guilty when I would pray and my eyes would creak open. It’s like I’m being totally blasphemous. But it’s fascinating to watch people during prayer. The facial expressions. The other prayer peekers looking around too. Sometimes, we’d make eye contact and then immediately look away with the abashed expression of “I didn’t mean it.”

But you did. And it’s okay. We’re not dead yet.

Tonight, my daughter and I played Lego Harry Potter and beat Voldemort and ended up running around Hogwarts searching for hidden treasure and students in peril. We laughed at the funny sounds and made silly commentary about the actions and plot.

But tomorrow is on the horizon and I am getting up early to walk so I can prepare for hiking season. To get close to 7 hours of sleep, I need to be in bed by 9:40.

Tonight, my daughter, my independent 16 year-old daughter, accompanied me upstairs. While I made the bed, she chatted about classes and the Zoom session tomorrow. I wrapped up the work, laid down, and picked up my Bible.

She exited my room and I started praying. And then, as I was praying about a colleague, my door clicked open. I cracked one eye and then the other. In comes my daughter, wearing her newest funny-sarcastic t-shirt, giggling at the joke. She knelt in front of the bed at the corner where our dog is buried under the blankets and adjusted the blanket around the dog’s head do it looked like a hood or a cowled shawl

Our dog poked her head out at my daughter who giggled again. Within me, the unfinished prayer hung like a chain of incomplete needs. This was my time with God. This was my time of quiet.

But I felt no urge, no need or impetus to ask my daughter to leave. With my don having moved out, I am ever aware of the fragility of time and it’s tenuous fibers. They can stretch a bit before snapping.

So while my daughter blew on our dog’s nose and then giggled, her crooked smile charmed me. When she relaxes, half her grin pulls up over one side of her teeth, the tips slightly pointy, giving her an air of mirth and mischief. I delighted in her elfin smile, at the way she relaxed at the foot of the bed and existed without fear or condition.

And so I prayed. With my eyes open and looking at my daughter’s uniquely beautiful face. I thanked God for her crooked smile, for the loose curls tucked back in the red scrunchy. I thanked God got putting this extraordinary young woman in my life and that I have been given the honor to raise her.

I still feel weird for praying with my eyes open. But I feel even more blessed for having seen that quiet and sacred moment.

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