Prayer, saying Hello, and Padraig O Tuama.

Padraig ;tbxPadraig O Tuama was one of the key note speakers at the European Chaplains’ Conference in Ireland this summer. He came to speak to us during our visit to Glendalough. Padraig is a poet, theologian and the leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.  Corrymeela has been building understanding between people on different sides of the divided communities of Northern Ireland since 1965.

This is a great passage on prayer and meditation. You can also see here his practice of saying ‘hello to…’ He says ‘hello’ to the full range of experience. It’s both observing and befriending.

“Neither I nor the poets I love found the keys to the kingdom of prayer and we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit. But I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway. So every morning I sit, I kneel, waiting, making friends with the habit of listening, hoping that I’m being listened to. There, I greet God in my own disorder. I say hello to my chaos, my unmade decisions, my unmade bed, my desire and my trouble. I say hello to distraction and privilege, I greet the day and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus. I recognise and greet my burdens, my luck, my controlled and uncontrollable story. I greet my untold stories, my unfolding story, my unloved body, my own love, my own body. I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day. I greet my own small world and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day. I greet my story and hope that I can forget my story during the day, and hope that I can hear some stories, and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead. I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet.

Hello to you all, I say, as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.


Padraig’s description of his morning prayer reminds me that the mind wandering in meditation is the prayer itself and not a distraction. All things that arise in silence are  our essential prayers.

I also love the way he talks of God. “I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet”. A way so completely part of the Christian tradition of contemplation, and also very Zen.

This is passage is from his book ‘In the Shelter’ and he reads it out loud near the end of the podcast of his conversation with Krista Tippett for “On Being”


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