Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

Confronting the dragon within


Years ago, when I was released from a relationship that was killing me, I felt lost, frightened, confused and alone. I had awoken with 72 cents in my pocket, a few clothes in a suitcase and my trusty Golden Retriever Ellie who had journeyed through the last harrowing two years of that relationship beside me.

I didn’t know what to do to find peace of mind and heart so, I prayed.

As a child, prayer had been a big part of my life. My mother, a devout Catholic, would make us four children kneel beside her every Friday evening in the living room of our home, no matter where in the world it was, and pray the Rosary. On Saturdays, my middle sister and I would go to the church with her to freshen up the flowers on the altar, and we would pray.

I was sometimes irreverent. Sometimes impatient, sometimes resentful of having to take time out from my play to pray. Always though, no matter what was going on around or within me, when I bowed my head and closed my eyes, clasped my child’s hands together in front of my heart and whispered the words of the Hail Mary, or the Our Father that began each decade of the Rosary, I felt a calmness descend and embrace me in its sacred warmth.

As an adult, prayer did not play much part in my life. In fact, for years, when my mother would say, “I’ll pray for you,” I felt a visceral reaction, a gut response of, “Don’t bother me with your faith and belief in prayer,” sizzle in my veins.

I realize today that my angry responses to her entreaties to pray for me had nothing to do with prayer, and everything to do with unresolved issues from childhood. I’m happy to say that today, I welcome my mother’s prayers, appreciating them for what they represent, a statement of her love and care for me.

Prayer also represents a powerful connection to the Divine.

On that first night after the police walked in and released me from an abusive relationship and I prayed, I wasn’t praying for anything in specific other than to drown out the pounding in my brain and hammering of fear within my heart. It worked.

I have used prayer intermittently over the years, often chanting in meditation or, on nights when sleep evades me, whispering the ancient words of the Hail Mary to allow peace to enter my mind and open the portals to sleep.

Prayer is a direct path into the sacred. A spiritual portal that connects me to the Divine, bringing me peace and calm. It soothes my soul.

I must confess though that when I say or type the word ‘pray’ or ‘prayer’, I feel a fissure of nervousness, a tiny worry of ‘what will other’s think’ scamper through my mind.

Will people think I’m trying to be all holy or devout? Will they think I’m getting all Catholic or religious on them?

If I were to write of Buddha, or Zen, there would be less mind-chatter tripping me up. Which means, I still have unresolved issues around faith and God and my thinking around what is spiritual and what is religious and what really does prayer do? I imagine the sleeping dragon within me is getting set to fire up my resistance to facing what is real and powerful and true to my heart.

So, I’ve decided to go on an exploration of prayer. To simply let my heart and soul and mind flow with ancient words of prayers written long ago and, with a group and the guidance of Andrew Harvey, explore the mysteries that prayer makes available, and the inner power and energy that it builds and sustains in birthing the divine human within.

The adventure begins tonight when the Igniting The Flame of Prayer course begins online.

I am excited!

And a wee bit nervous. I will be immersed in the holy adventure and, I will be confronting the dragon within.

And so, I breathe and I pray for peace and courage to embrace me.


Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

18 thoughts on “Confronting the dragon within

  1. I can relate to everything you said. Raised in a religious world, shunning it, then walking back there for a while only to be spat out. I believe in a higher power, but I also believe it is within us to find. Prayer does evoke a religious connotation, but it really just means peaceful thought. I think anyway. We are currently parked next to a giant zen circle in the middle of the desert. To walk the circle and just let the thoughts come and go, is a form of prayer, or peaceful thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So raw, so real, so you. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself and inspiring, comforting, blessing others in the sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sure it will be wonderful, Louise. WE have to go to those dark corners and closets to get to our genuine self. Prayer can be so many things and methods. I think of it as concentration. Enjoy the class 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was fascinating to listen to Andrew in the first segment of the course Lisa as he described what is for him, the difference between prayer and meditation. “Prayer enables divine grace to pour down into me,” was one of his descriptions I particularly liked — I like your thoughts on ‘concentration.’ Thanks!


  4. The last time I prayed to a divine spirit was forty one years ago, the night my father died. He had had a stroke at work and I prayed that he lived long enough for me to say good-bye to him. He didn’t and I didn’t. Since then, instead of praying, I have spoken to something inside of me ‘please do not let this happen’ or ‘go on you can do it’ etc etc. Somehow I feel that I was let down that night forty years ago and since then I have felt that solutions have to come from within me. I do not know whether that is the right way to think but that is the way that I feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Elizabeth, I’m so sorry you didn’t get to say goodbye to your father. *HUGS*
      Diana xo

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty Elizabeth — it is very beautiful and inspiring. I too for many years had rejected belief in a power outside of me. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way, there is only the way we take.

      Last night, in the first segment of the course, Andrew spoke about the Oneness — and how prayer is the path to feeling at One with the One in knowing we are the one we are seeking — we are, in his view, one divine consciousness and the purpose of our human condition is to awaken to the understanding that the journey is about our whole being being transfigured into a new stage of the human condition.

      Very heady, thoughtful and provoking stuff!

      Thank you for sharing. For me, when we share the quietness of our hearts, we draw closer to one another and ‘see’ our true selves shining.


  5. I love that you’re taking this journey Louise! I’ve been through of phases of praying and not praying as well in my life. I relate to some of what you’ve written here.

    For me, prayer can be anything from formal to just acknowledging the presence of God in all I do. In the latter, one’s life itself can be a prayer. I’m also one of those weirdos that while praying for you, my eyes are open and locked on yours, freaks some people out. 😀
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great exploration. Spirituality is important for all of us, and most important of all is to find the form that speaks to us most genuinely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so agree Ian — for me, it is the exploration and standing in the unknown that enlightens and emboldens my journey. I love what Rilke wrote:

      “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke


  7. I understand (because I come from a rigidly evangelically, fundamentalist background), how the word ‘prayer’ can conjure unfortunate memories but, though often used in an empty, cliched way, I now embrace the word/concept of prayer as a gentle gentle gentle ‘thing’ – mysterious too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it amazing how a word or phrase can hold so many triggers from the past Julie? It is those unresolved triggers that I like to pull and see what happens next! 🙂

      I love the vision of flowing into the gentle, gentle mystery of it all. thank you my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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