No. 19: Any given Sunday

Published: Mar/Apr 2006
Theme: An alternate look at the way we worship
Cover: Faith (digital image from original photograph by S.D.)
Contributors: Aguinaldo Belgrave, Kelly “Phoenix” Chase, Katy Gash, Claire Ince, Rob Leyshon, Fay Martindale, Louisa Nurse, Corrie Scott, S.D. Mark Selman, Allison Thompson, Mark Jason Welch.

Back Page Say # 19
Any given Sunday
By Robert Edison Sandiford

Among my earliest memories are nights in my parents bed in a warm Montreal home. My Mom is working the evening shift at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and Dad, a teacher, has put down his correcting for the night. I have finished the chocolate milk and buttered toast he brought me as a bedtime snack, it’s now time to say my prayers.

First, a children’s prayer—“As I lay me down to sleep”—then the entreaties— “God bless my Mom, Dad, my brothers and sister….” Usually in the middle of these recitations would be The Lord’s Prayer—“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name….”

I’ve said that prayer, including a few others taught to good Anglican boys and girls, most of my life. I associate it with Sunday school, catechism, doctrine. I associate it with a particular kind of faith, a brand of belief. Whenever I say it, I am seven or eight years old again, carefully repeating after Dad.

But as I’ve grown older—and moved a distance from the church in which I was baptized, confirmed and married—the way I pray has been transformed. I find myself praying more often than before and more spontaneously. There seems to be a larger spirituality to my religion, if that makes any sense.

The way Barbadians pray, or worship in prayer—as a people or nation—has gone through changes of its own. On any given Sunday or Sabbath, apart from the service and the sermon, the ritual and psalms, the pulpit and pews, what are people experiencing, and how?

When we seek communion with God—if that is what we are seeking, in whatever religion we embrace—we may be thinking, shouting, whispering, reflecting. The way we pray today or don’t is still telling: as much about our faith in ourselves, maybe, as about our faith in God and creation.

—Robert Edison Sandiford is a co-founding editor of ArtsEtc.