Jummah Reflection: Just Do It…With Good Intentions
Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom & TGIF
I recently complained to a friend that my ritual prayers (salah) feel uninspiring and robotic. Doing them out of obligation almost felt like a betrayal of my faith. He wisely suggested that I look for ways to infuse meaning into the process. “Treat it like a meeting,” he said, advising me to set my intention with my ablutions, and focus on each action before and after the actual prayer as if it were an act of worship in and of itself. I’ve begun preparing my mind and my heart to ‘meet’ God in my prayers, like an honored guest. Since I’ve started doing this, the difference has been palpable.
This also reminded me of the advice I’ve heard about love. You don’t just feel love…you do it. And if you’re starting to feel like ‘the thrill is gone’ in your relationships, you *do* more acts of love, and then you will begin to *feel* it again.
There’s a profound difference in a religion like Islam (and I think also Judaism) in that the orthopraxy is the vehicle for our connection to The Divine. This, of course, requires faith in and of itself if you’re not spiritually ‘in the zone’ because doing some religious things can make you feel silly. But doing them with the proper intention, and with an open mind and heart, marries your earth-bound activities with the spiritual world.
There’s a reason these traditions have lasted, and it’s not merely because they have been enforced socially or tribally. It’s because they work, and have worked and continue to work for devotees across time and space.
My learnings this week can be summed up thusly:
1. Tradition, ritual, spiritual discipline and religious orthopraxy have value in the modern world…perhaps they have even greater value in the modern world than ever before.
2. *How* we do things is as important is *what* we do.
3. Intention is the most important place from which to begin, and requires constant revisitation.
4. I am so grateful for wise counsel from good people.