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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Prayer

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The one who bows and the one he bows to are both empty.
—Buddha

At the temple we buy sticks of incense, set them in the altar’s sand,
wave the scented smoke towards our faces for good luck, eyes closed,

as the Japanese do.  Everyone bows to the Buddha, but the Buddha
is not divine.  We long to worship a power outside ourselves.

So much easier than believing in our own Buddha nature.  
How to worship a presence that is everywhere but looks like

nothing we’ve ever seen?  Prayer an art, like music—
difficult to listen without forming pictures in the mind.  



Ann Hostetler is the author of a volume of poetry, Empty Room with  
Light, and editor of the anthology A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in  
Poetry (Univ. of Iowa Press 2003). She teaches English and Creative  
Writing at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.
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