The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Pray All Ways and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Pray All Ways by Edward Hays challenges us to reframe our view of the devotional life. He writes: “To pray all ways is the unspoken admonition that is cleverly hidden in the spoken request of Jesus, ‘Pray always.’ To learn how to ‘pray always’ is to master the art of learning how to pray all ways and at all times.” In this new edition of his classic book, Hays, a Roman Catholic priest, suggests ways to pray with the eyes, the nose and our feet. He examines play, gift giving, suffering, simplicity, patience, fasting, feasting, napping and other activities as prayer.

Here is a favorite passage, which will give you an idea of Hays’ style: “Tears are the prayer-beads of all of us, men and women, because they arise from a fullness of heart. Such an overflowing of the heart can be the result of great sorrow, but also of great joy. Tears appear as we listen to a moving speech in a play, while viewing a motion picture, while taking part in a departure of a friend, or when absorbed in some deeply moving religious experience. All expressions of the heart are good prayer. What happens naturally is usually good and also right.” This kind of prayer requires us only to pause, pay attention and open ourselves to God’s grace (Forest of Peace).


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one of the best films of 2007. In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), the 43-year-old editor-in-chief of the French magazine Elle, was paralyzed from head-to-toe by a stroke to his brain stem. After 20 days in a coma, he awoke able to communicate only by blinking his left eyelid. With tremendous determination and creativity, Bauby wrote a memoir about his experience of “locked-in syndrome.” Director Julian Schnable has brought Bauby’s acclaimed book to vibrant life with a screenplay by Ronald Harwood.

This amazing film reveals what it’s like to square off against loss and death on a daily basis. The story is told through voice-over narration of what Bauby is thinking, as well as flashbacks. When Bauby is told that he is paralyzed, he reacts with astute observations of the goings-on in the hospital and poignant memories of his prior life.

Speech therapist Henriette (Marie-Josee Croze) sets him up to communicate by reciting the letters of the alphabet; he chooses a letter by blinking. It’s a slow process and dependent for success upon the patience and perseverance of those who administer it, including Claude (Anne Consigny), who takes the dictation for his memoir. Bauby sees himself in a deep-sea diving bell, sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss. But he escapes through the gift of his imagination, a point of view he called the butterfly.

Bauby’s memoir was published in 1997 and stands as a classic in the literature of illness. It salutes the firepower of imagination as a life-giver and life-sustainer (Miramax Films, PG-13 for nudity, sexual content, some language).


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