“It is the Hebraic intuition that God is capable of all speech acts except that of monologue which has generated our arts of reply, of questioning and counter-creation.” – George Steiner
Pause, again, take more time, roll the name off your tongue, honeyed and sweet but sharp and knifing its way through the air.
This is how I pray. I lose the words as quickly as they come, and for me, the word-smith, the hammerer of syllables, who watches words like owls at dusk, eyeing the next feast, the next shadow spilling over the ground. This is how I pray, stops and pauses, distracted by the name God, by the question of if I pray too much with “He” or “Father” because I’m listening too much to the sound of my own voice than I am to the silence where God speaks and sings. I pause and hear myself, preen my feathers in the righteousness of a bright sadness of Lent, which is a phrase from Alexander Schmemann in a book that I haven’t been reading but said I would read this Lent, a fact I haven’t told God in the midst of my pleased-self-reflection as I pray.
God does not monologue; where did I learn it?
In the hazy heat of the summers I stayed home and ran through my sprinklers, forgetting the provisions of the creation? In the midst of the chaos of the weeks that roll through my several synced calendars? Where did I learn the prayers of run-on sentences that begin and end with me and all the words are blurred not like poetry but like the overachieving grasp at something good to say to God breathless and always trying to beat my self at my own sense of piety?
God does not monologue. Pause, the phrase on the page, alone, before these italicized words are added.
Where are you speaking?
Because God does not monologue, I can use the second person, the “you” that in French has taught me formal and informal, friendship and lover and austere other, in those three letters looping through the prayer. Another pause, I’ve been writing and writing but the truth is I don’t know anything more about prayer after writing this, even these very words I crave and love.
If God does not monologue, God must want us to talk with him. He must like conversations, even the ones like this, the ones that are me pausing and asking myself if I know how to pray, the ones admitting, God, I don’t know how to pray and I’m talking and talking and writing and the words have lost me.
Where are you speaking, O God my God?
I will claim you in the second person, human being to Creator.
Where are you speaking, God?
I will talk back to you, this intuition of what you must desire and ask of us, in the depths of the silence that is your speech.
And I will fall silent too, to un-learn my monologues.