Someone will tell you, “You have to be able to forgive yourself.” But that isn’t possible. What is possible is to open your hands without fear so the other can blow your sins away. For perhaps it isn’t clammy coins, but just a light dust which a soft breeze will whirl away, leaving only a grin or a chuckle behind. Then you feel a bit of new freedom, and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and the people around you. Praying becomes effortless, inspired, and lively or peaceful and quiet. Then you recognize the festive and the modest as moments of prayer. You begin to suspect that to pray is to live.
-Henri Nouwen, ‘With Open Hands’
I read this laying in the hammock this afternoon, and it made me think that laying in a hammock on a gorgeous afternoon is probably a great time to pray.
It also made me think of something Bob Goff wrote in his book Love Does. Bob is a lawyer by trade, and he writes that his first instruction to clients going into a deposition or the courtroom is to sit with their palms up, hands open. The reason is that he finds it next to impossible for people to get defensive when they’re in that posture.
Try it sometime. Sit with your palms up, hands open, and see if you can get yourself worked up about something. I’ve tried it. As soon as I got upset or angry, I noticed that my hands had flipped over and we’re gripping my knees pretty tightly.
Try this when you pray, too. When you’re confessing and asking forgiveness, assume this posture of surrender and release. It might make a huge difference.