Yesterday, I was sitting quietly, thinking about my Dad on what would have been his 76th birthday when the following prayer came into my head:
“I pray on this day of memories to speak to my father, the one whom the wind called Henry. Though I am far from his bones, perhaps there is a spirit in these unnamed skies who will find him and honor him with my song.”
If it doesn’t sound familiar, it’s probably because you’ve never watched Star Trek Voyager, or followed along on the spiritual practices of Chakotay, Voyager’s First Officer.
(Like the title of this post says, “You know you’re a Trekkie when…”)
With all apologies, though, to the more traditional prayers among you, this fictious invocation said exactly what I needed it to say — to the Universe and to my Dad:
Yesterday was a day of memories. And while I could not be near the places my Dad knew or visit the cemetery where he is buried, I would hope that whatever thoughts I did have on his birthday would be carried to his spirit – wherever and whatever that is.
I have sat through funerals during which anecdotal Bible passages were read and stood graveside during rote prayers. I’ve listened while priests and pastors have comforted the grieving with admonitions of sins and promises of future visits with loved ones. Once, I even heard a song sung that suggested my loved one wanted me dead, too, so I could be walking in heaven with them.
(Good Lord, please don’t beam me up there.)
I like Chakotay’s Native American approach honoring our loved ones. Which is problematic in itself, since neither the actor who portrayed him nor the writer who consulted on the program were actually Native American. Oy vey!
Man without a country, woman without a god?
Quite the contrary. I have many gods — god as the Universe meets me when I walk in the woods, and god as joyful song joins me when I sing out loud in my car. Quan Yin watches over those daily travels, Ganesh holds my visions, and Earth Touching Buddha grounds my yoga practice. A reclining Buddha protects me while I sleep, St. Anthony welcomes me every morning, and I like to believe that when I curse at my computer, somehow it’s actually a prayer to Jesus Christ to help me be successful in all of my endeavors.
This is what I feel: god is everywhere and in everything, and prayer is too. Prayer is in holy scripture and haiku, in Psalms and poetry, in song lyrics, and yes, even in an episode of Star Trek. And as Captain Kirk once said, “sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.”