Patrick, from Melbourne, asks Nick Cave: “a prayer to who?”
Nick Cave answers:
The act of prayer is by no means exclusive to religious practise because prayer is not dependent on the existence of a subject. You need not pray to anyone. It is just as valuable to pray into your disbelief, as it is to pray into your belief, for prayer is not an encounter with an external agent, rather it is an encounter with oneself. There is as much chance of our prayers being answered by a God that exists as a God that doesn’t. I do not mean this facetiously, for prayers are very often answered.
A prayer provides us with a moment in time where we can contemplate the things that are important to us, and this watchful application of our attention can manifest these essential needs. The act of prayer asks of us something and by doing so delivers much in return — it asks us to present ourselves to the unknown as we are, devoid of pretence and affectation, and to contemplate exactly what it is we love or cherish. Through this conversation with our inner self we confront the nature of our own existence.
The coronavirus has brought us to our knees, yet it has also presented us with the opportunity to be prayerful, whether we believe in God or not. By forcing us into isolation, it has dismantled our constructed selves, by challenging our presumed needs, our desires, and our ambitions and rendered us raw, essential and reflective. Our sudden dislocation has thrown us into a mystery that exists at the edge of tears and revelation, for none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.
In our hubris we thought we knew, but as we bow our heads within the virus’ awesome power, all we are sure of now is our defencelessness. In the end this vulnerability may be, for our planet and ourselves, our saving grace, as we step chastened into tomorrow. Released from our certitude, we present our purest offering to the world — our prayers.
The Red Hand Files, issue #92, April 2020