In the first metaphor, tradition has pictured the human heart as a river bed, through which runs the prayer of Christ. The point is that we can lay aside the heavy striving to connect with a God who, we imagine, is asking that we be what we can’t be and pray as we can’t. Or anyway, is asking for a skill that we don’t have.

But after all, God went to so much trouble to gain our hearts, would he set us up for failure in prayer? Christ on the cross who thirsts, the Infant who wants just to be held, the lost Child waiting to be found—that is prayer. Prayer is Jesus longing to be found. It is not a job. It’s a finding and a being found. Sure, it can feel like sore inner feet, ears that seem to have forgotten how to hear and eyes that have trouble in the dark.

But all the same, it is Jesus in our inmost being, the risen Lord who walks in the garden of our hearts. Our prayer is the prayer of Christ whispering or singing or shouting down along that river bed to the Father.

We have to be simple and honest, as attentive as we can manage, and let God be about the prayer.

As a monastery is here to teach us how to let God be about our lives.