JanetMayes

By JanetMayes

Praying

It doesn’t have to be 
the blue iris, it could be 
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few 
small stones; just 
pay attention, then patch 

a few words together and don’t try 
to make them elaborate, this isn’t 
a contest but the doorway
 
into thanks, and a silence in which 
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver

It was a beautiful afternoon, and the three of us walked on the seafront at Hythe, along the less busy stretch towards Sandgate. On the coast the air was hazy, and we were looking into the sun. I paused to take my first photo of the afternoon, a solitary man silhouetted against the dazzling light on the sea, his head slightly bowed, on an otherwise empty stretch of beach. As I gazed out to sea, he knelt and bent his forehead to the shingle in the characteristic movements of Muslim prayer. It felt a little voyeuristic, despite the very public place, to continue watching his graceful sequence of movements; I didn't take any more photos, but waited at a distance as he again stood still, facing eastwards along the coast. His prayer was formal, consisting of traditional, ritual gestures and, I assume, words, while I was much closer to what Mary Oliver describes: noticing, paying attention, being thankful, open and silent. He was not aware of my presence, but witnessing his prayer changed and intensified my experience of the moment.

The extra is the view inland; I liked the layers created by the hazy sky, and the way the sun illuminated the row of rooves.

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