Why Do I Pray? – Oyin Oludipe

Why do I pray? Who do I?—Why do I arch the soul to suffer hubris, to brew seasons—sudden sporadic somberness—in the pit of being? To pause? Or pulse? A departure, perhaps? From what or which? Surely, a brittle specimen is no longer cheaply within grasp from that headlong haste of a protean world. He must stop. The air is immersed in futile rites of human inquisitions. On the next margin of the mind, he must stop to salvage collapsing motes.


Yes, stop. An artful stoppage. It is wise to preserve the surveillance of the halt before a camwood-tinted horizon. For I suspect that it is the truly gullible that takes easily to speed: the road is severed in swirls of fleeting youth; every crumb eternally elusive, its seepage raucously charted, stirred by immense shadows. Climax. Appetite. Then, comes Desolation. What, then, is this need for motion, for constant mobilization of the restricted soul? I do not seek, lest this vacuum be scented with the shortened breath of man.


Still, there being nothing worse to envisage, the universe all around me has become feeble, ensconced in rifts no treaties between Mind and Matter can mend. The universe has become hidden, become too wide. Soon, the human heart emulates and all cells, in sanctimonious bliss, implode in the head. Yet, frightened for when the firmament might snarl and its watery corridors close and open no more, I arch at once to purge the mind from contemplation of such fortuitous severance.


Then, in the morning, I pray. I do not want to grasp the heavens. I want to grasp myself. I want to turn the virulent abstractions of a mortal life into my palms and squeeze struggle into jugs of oblivion. For I think praying works like this. At once, an earth’s forager vibration is stilled beneath the knees, subtly cradled as if by human hands, slightly resonant of the fall of war. There, the limited Mind transcends the gossamer reins of Self. The raging Pulse heeds the inevitable softness of Breath. A moment’s repose holds the spinning Core. There, there is a sacred baptism of restlessness in the candidness of nothingness.


I pray, not because I am human. On the contrary, I might be a demi-god, concealed in flesh. So why do I pray? I pray because I simply do not know. Human life is thespian vagueness. I do not know from whence I entered and to where I shall exit. I do not know death or tomorrow, the intent of the sea or the lust of the wind. I do not know the dim rafter of dreams—may no reed slip to bash my head. I do not know the ultimate Will of that infallible force that has spawned me in the navel of the storm. Even as god preconceived, I still do not know where my abode dwells. I have limped severally upon my spoor in the Judas tunnel of infinity. I do not know where my wand lies.


Not to know is best, perhaps. This inquiry of failure leaves the Heart a little confounded than before. Prayer is a confession of great fascination, churns the impelling questions in a bowel of mysteries. They arise—When will you know? I do not know. When did you know you did not know? I do not know. Or, as in yet another rendering, do you know when you will know? I do not know. This is the final intimation of the belligerent soul, of the free yet reigned upon. I do not know.


And I—poet and preacher—do not know. Yet I am, because my Maker does. So, I pray. In that moment, Life struts.






Oyin Oludipe is a Nigerian poet, critic and copywriter. He was a finalist for 2014 Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize contest. His works have been published in many literary journals including Kalamu Review, Kaanem Art, Ehanom Review, Magma Poetry, Ijagun Poetry Journal and The Kalahari Review. As a writer, Oyin is influenced by, among others, the Nigerian Nobel Laureate and playwright, Wole Soyinka.

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