In Dante’s Purgatorio the proud are punished by bearing the huge stones of their pride on their backs.
They are bent over, groaning, and as they groan and shuffle along under the great weight of those stones they are praying the Our Father, over and over again, the simplest prayer of all, the first prayer we teach a child to pray. Our Father who art in heaven . . . Our Father who art in heaven . . . Our Father who art in heaven.
I think of this on mornings like this one, when I’ve gotten up to pray, as I always do, and I sit here blank and empty and uninspired. Anxious. Distracted.
And I keep judging myself, interiorly: I’m a bad pray-er. I should be having visions and entering into this deep peace and feeling this compassion for everyone and I can’t and I don’t and it’s because I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough.
No. And yes.
All I can do is the mechanical. All I can do is rote. All I can do is repeat myself. Repeat myself.
Our Father, who art in heaven . . . Our Father . . . Our Father . . .