It all started with a seemingly innocent request--"Can you hem my Karate uniform?" Keep in mind that it was two days before Thanksgiving, we were hosting dinner at our house and I had spent a good portion of the day making pie.
But, since the request came from my darling husband, I made a deal. He had to get out the sewing machine and set it up for me and I would do the hemming. Now, I'm no dummy when it comes to using a sewing machine. I've been known to sew a Halloween costume or two in my time, not to mention curtains, place mats and other various household projects. However, I've been busy lately (like the last five years or so) and have done very little sewing to speak of. OK, I've done NO sewing. I admit it!
So, when I sat down to start the hemming process, I was disturbed and annoyed that it took me about an hour to do a mediocre job! Threading the needle was, evidently, the first obstacle I had to hurdle. Evidently, the needles have become smaller than they were five years ago. Needles haven't escaped the "smaller is better" attitude that applies to i-whatevers. (Don't you dare bring up the phrase "reading glasses". It's my delusion and I like it!)
After getting my darling husband with 20/20 vision to thread the needle, I was off. Well, maybe not off exactly. The rest of the project was fraught with broken threads, problems with tension (and I'm not just referring to my shoulders) and sloppy workmanship. Honestly, If I was hiring myself to do the job, I probably would have fired myself!
Finally the project was done and my husband was fine with my lack of precision. However, I was not. What had happened to my sewing skills? Is it the machine's fault? Should I blame age? What it all came down to, I decided, was practice, or lack of it.
I was out of practice. That's all. Like so many things, you have to use your skills to keep them. Just like exercise and muscle strength. You can't just build up strong muscles and say you're done. You have to continue to use those muscles in order to keep them.
That got me to thinking about prayer. Prayer is yet another one of those things that gets better with practice. If you don't believe me, find someone who learned to pray the Rosary as a child and ask them if they could still pray the prayers today. Their answer is going to depend greatly on whether they have prayed it throughout their lives, just on occasion, or not since their childhood. Without practice, prayer in any form, structured or free flowing, can feel awkward or even uncomfortable. But, just as with anything you learn, practice makes perfect.
The more you practice prayer in your life, the more comfortable you'll be conversing with God. You may even start spending more time listening than talking. That's a sign of a great conversationalist.
I could always use more practice in my prayer life. There are so many times I feel that my words are not reflecting my thoughts and desires well at all. Since I'm a visual person, lately when I bow my head I'll sometimes envision what I am thanking God for and also what I'm asking of Him. I picture my children happy and healthy and enjoying each other. I picture all the people I love surrounded by that love. The details of the pictures may change but the themes are fairly constant-love, health, happiness, and nearness to God. After all, He knows what's in my heart anyway.
I know that I have a long way to go before I could consider myself "perfect" in my prayer life. But, I will continue to practice which is more than I can say about my sewing skills.