Thursday, March 31, 2005

God's Prayers

This morning I was reading Carolyn Myss's book Why People Don't Heal and How They Can in preparation for a paper I'm writing on the role of religion in American medicine. She had just related a story a woman shared in one of her workshops: in the midst of a near-fatal traffic accident, the woman had an out-of-body experience in which she saw what was happening from a hundred feet above the accident. She could hear how people were reacting in the cars behind hers on the busy expressway--some were traumatized by what they saw, some were panicking about being late for appointments, and from one car about five cars back, she saw a beautiful swirl of light, coming up to the clouds and going back to her car. She realized the woman was praying for her. I loved that image and imagined someone in need suddenly receiving in a very real way beautiful swirls of light from everyone who comes to support them in prayer.

Just then, the sun broke through the clouds for the first time this morning and touched my shoulder and the back of my head. Feeling the warmth, I thought, "Oh, there goes God again, praying for us." What a wonderful idea! That our beloved Creator not only knows, loves, guides, protects, and walks with us through our days, but sends the kiss of prayer to our lives daily, moment by moment, in beautiful swirls of light and love we can experience in any moment we are willing.

Enjoy the swirls of light that come your way today!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

God's Answering Machine

I just love this poem I read in the Writer's Almanac newsletter this morning and wanted to share it with you. I think of my own voice and my face over dinner each day, with my hungry kids waiting, forks poised, and my husband hoping I don't launch into anything other than the usual, "Please bless our family and our food, and thank you for this day" kind of prayer. In my heart, I would love for that moment to be about thanking God for all the good things that have happened that day...but everyone else seems to see it as a gateway to mealtime. Ah well. Perhaps one day they will have an experience like this author had:

by Linda Pastan, from The Last Uncle © W.W. Norton.

When the young professor folded
his hands at dinner and spoke to God
about my safe arrival
through the snow, thanking Him also
for the food we were about to eat,
it was in the tone of voice I use
to speak to friends when I call
and get their answering machines,
chatting about this and that
in a casual voice,
picturing them listening
but too busy to pick up the phone,
or out taking care of important
business somewhere else.
The next day, flying home
through a windy
and overwhelming sky, I knew
I envied his rapport with God
and hoped his prayers
would keep my plane aloft.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Rugged and Old

Occasionally I bump into people I know I could never have met without divine assistance. Not long ago, I had one of those blessed contacts. It was a chance meeting with a man my father's age. In the middle of our brief conversation, he suddenly said, "Would you like to hear how I came to know the Lord?"

He told me that 35 years ago, he'd been in a bar with his best friend on a Friday night. They were doing the usual--drinking, smoking, killing time. On this particular night, the bar manager decided to open up the stage for a kind of singing contest. It was before the days of Karaoke, but something similar. Although he'd never wanted to be up in front of a crowd before, he jumped to his feet. "Come with me," he said to his friend. The friend looked at him like he was crazy for a minute and then agreed. They made their way to the stage.

Together they turned the pages on the songbook, trying to find a song they both knew. There was only one they both recognized: "The Old Rugged Cross." The man looked at me incredulously and shook his head. "I have no idea how I knew that song," he said. "I'd never been to church in my life. I had never thought twice about God before that."

He and his friend began to sing the hymn. He laughed, remembering. "You should have seen that place clear out! I think they thought the roof was going to fall in."

But then his eyes filled with tears. "You know, after we finished singing, I went back to my seat. But God was already working with me. The words of that song were sinking in. After that, I started noticing God wherever I went. That's what started it all...and I'm so grateful to him."

Thank you, God, for your consistent, constant, abiding welcome; for the way in which you touch us and reach us; for the amazing and creative ways you hold us close. Thank you for loving us so much that you come and stay with us wherever we are--in a smokey bar, stuck in traffic, sitting in a cubicle, alone in the kitchen, or in the middle of a congregation on a Sunday morning. We thank you for the softening and transforming that's happening in our hearts even now. May we be a blessing to you and to each other this day. Amen.