“Pour upon us Thy love and Thy light…”
How do we say these words? As Mevlana Rumi said, there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground, so we can understand that there might be innumerable ways to say these words from the prayer Saum. We may be distracted while we say them, thinking about the tasks that await us in the coming day, or we may be half asleep, and thinking more about a good, strong cup of coffee; we may be vacillating between the feeling of duty to recite our prayers and doubt as to whether there is any point. Or we might, perhaps, be mentally spreading our arms wide to include as much as possible of humanity in the ‘us.’
We address our prayers to the Divine, using whatever name or form is useful to us – Allah, God, Yahweh, the Only Being – and yet the Divine Presence is not at all dependent upon them. Our petition for love and light to flow from above is not meant to joggle the Creator out of a moment of forgetfulness, to remind the Divine Hand to turn on the Holy Tap. The love and the light are always there, ever present.
In other words, the prayer is for our own benefit – in the case of this particular phrase, to remind us to be receptive, to open wide and accept. We might think here of the learning a small child goes through when taught to play catch; the adult holds the ball and gets the child’s attention, and says ‘Okay, get ready – here it comes!’ And because of the happy exchange, the child learns very quickly the delight of catching the ball.
If we listen well to the words of our prayers, they can help us to change our attitude. If we say, ‘Pour upon us Thy love and Thy light…’ with the feeling that the flow is already there and we only need to open ourselves to it, we may discover ourselves immersed in an abundant, overwhelming cascade. And our joy in that stream will surely bring a smile to the face of the Parent that sent it rolling toward us.