Do you sit when you pray? Do you have a favorite chair? And why would one chair matter more than another, especially for prayer?
It seems like tricky business when we link something material, like a chair, to something spiritual, like prayer. After all, prayer is eminently portable. We take it with us wherever we go and a chair, well, a chair sits where it sits.
“Where did these chairs come from anyway?” I asked Mom.
“They were in your dad’s family. They go back to the 18th century. You can see how they’re worn down because they sat in the kitchen where the floor was brick and got dragged along the floor.”
I thought of how my grandfather told me they couldn’t drag chairs along the ground on Sundays because it was the Sabbath, and it would be like plowing.
“When do you think it was last caned?” I asked.
“A long time back,” she said. I checked the bottom of the seat. It has black tape on it that could have been there before World War II.
I sat it in it and considered how many family celebrations it had witnessed: birthdays, Sunday dinners, baptisms, Christmas, Easter.
If a chair could talk, what would it say about my family? They laughed a lot and ate well and never sat down for a meal without saying grace first.
I thought of that old children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit, how the stuffed bunny gets more worn over the years and more loved until it becomes real through love.
That would be this chair. Worthless really. Firewood. Can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy it at a tag sale. But it had been loved.
A chair, a physical object, can have a spiritual aura to it. I figured it would be my praying chair while I was home. The right place to sit and look for God.