The fountain in Dominick Park is one of my favorite features of the cathedral complex. The water flows and flows and flows like a curtain of hope and regeneration. Kai, being a water dog in a desert, gravitates to the park and to the fountain. He will sit on the edge of the fountain and watch the cars and people go by or he will stand directly in front of the fountain and move his face forward into the flowing water with closed eyes and wagging tail so thatches nose touches the water curtain.
When Kai does this, he reminds me that when we pray we are entering a flowing stream. We do not begin something. We do not call on God and God arrives. We do not turn on lights and God arrives. God is not waiting in a chapel or tabernacle – caught like Tinkerbell. We do not go find God in a church or a chapel. We do not invoke a distant God with an opening collect for purity. God does not linger off in the clergy suite with a nosegay up to his face to stave off the stench of humanity, finally deigning to approach us with a half smile and limp-wristed royal wave when we get to the prayers of the people. No. That is not how God works. And that is not how prayer and worship work either.
When the cathedral gathers to pray or worship we enter a flowing stream. God is an equal-opportunity deity. When a village church in Sherborne, England gathers to pray it enters that same stream. When a lutheran church in Esslingen, Germany gathers to pray it enters this same flowing water. When a small, frightened group of Christians pray in China they enter the same stream. When my friends and I gather at my home for a pot of chili and prayer we enter that same stream
Is God present to us in the Eucharist? Yes. Is God present to us in the park as we sit in the sun on a bench to pray in front of flowing water. Yes.
When you and I swim in the pools and rivers of prayer, we commingle (brace yourselves!) with…well, sinners who are praying from hikes. We are swimming in our prayers alongside Christians from around the world and from all time – all saints – and we may even be swimming with people of other faiths and of none. Not to mention the occasional bikini-clad angel in a pink rubber hair-cap. Those wings take forever to dry! But the swim is worth it.