Friday, January 23, 2015

beautiful and wild forces...

"There are beautiful and wild forces within us." * 

I was brought up as a luke-warm, "had to go to church" Christian. Prayer for me was not much more then words and "Jesus" was a question mark. Saying prayers too often happened without feeling or meaning. After all where did they go -- these words thrown into a fog. Their destination was too invisible, too not there and too not here. Then adulthood came along and turned one inside-out and upside-down in all the human stuff: growing, marrying, parenting, divorcing, and aging. In other words, enjoying and suffering this experiential loop called living.

What I didn't know as a child or as a young adult is that something deeper inside me was being nourished, cultivated, in spite of my inattention -- a heart beat, a hum was emerging which I eventually recognize as Presence, mine and Other. I discovered the feeling of beloveding is the feeling of these "beautiful and wild forces" of which St Frances spoke. This deeper sense of awareness was like gradually falling in love with an aliveness that was intimate, personal, impersonal, faceless and powerful.  And it really does live in my cells and in my chest.

What is this divine force, heart-energy and intelligence I can access, turn too and feel a part of ? I sit here at the desk and wonder why I, the desk and the water in the lake just don't fall off into space. There is certainly nothing seemingly holding us here. This force, in  labeling it "gravity" makes us forget the invisible power that resides in such a little word. Thus, I lose the wonder, the awesomeness that I am actually hanging upside down in space with no nails in my shoes. Why doesn't the whole thing give way? What invisible, caring, compassion keeps it all from falling into space?

What divine intelligence is at work? Everyone I know has ten fingers, a nose and a chin. Imagine. How did that happen? And the exact number! This is the beautiful and wild force within -- a power and relationship available in each of us. It's language, we call prayer.

Praying comes in as many forms as minutes do in a day. Sometimes it's words, sometimes it's the space between the words. In the last writing prayer came in the form of a table grace. This morning, being busy, I will try to bring my non-feeling "in from the cold". This will necessitate getting up from the computer, moving over to the rocker and saying, I am here** on the in-breath and wait on the out-breath for my mind to touch my heart.  Surprisingly, after breathing a few times, my busyness begins to thaw. I start feeling connected. Later, I may be lured out on the deck as those infinite number of frosty, ice-crystals also wait on the rail to ignite my amazement which is a swift road to gratitude, the root and route of prayer.

These beautiful and wild forces speak the language of the heart that unites us all.  I need this understanding, compassion and healing. I take my vitamins daily to keep my body healthy. Maybe praying is like taking my spiritual vitamins daily to keep my Being healthy.

Image source:
* Saint Frances
** Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, January 9, 2015

On the gurney, peace is always beautiful...

The table is set, beautifully. The scallops, veggies and red wine wait. In it's candlelight, I bow my head for grace. With all of my "wealth", I am moved to pray for, at least, someone in Syria but hopelessness is all I feel. How can my little prayer have any affect, there? Will it really do any good? I feel small and defeated.

This morning on BBC, I heard that millions of Syrians have been displaced and are without homes or passports. Before the conflict they too were at their tables, nicely set, with lights of the season twinkling, their special foods before them, their middle class jobs waiting Monday morning, their middle class doctors accessible around the corner and their grands were off to school, safely, to start a New Year. However, now, the lights have gone out, there is no table, the schools are barrel-bombed, the doctors dead or escaped, the houses, condos, apartments are rubble. Yes, they were me a couple of years ago sitting in their "wealth". In comparison, I can't even feel the extent of this grace I live in. Would any prayer I say ever make a difference?

Then I remember, an emergency room in Tucson. The gurney was surrounded by white coats, I knew they were trying to keep me alive. I had been run over by a truck. (My femur artery was severed, etc.) I remained conscious except for the impact and the time under the truck. A card this Christmas quoted Walt Whitman saying, "Peace is Always Beautiful." Lying there on the gurney, a helicopter ride minutes ago and with what seemed like "madness" going on around me, I felt that peace accompanied by the warm-water feeling of love in my chest -- a feeling I have in prayer yet I was not praying. Too much pain, too much going on with my body. However, my thought and comfort were, people will start praying for me in Nova Scotia when they hear. Then water was dripping on my face. I tried to brush it aside and bent my neck to see the leak in the ceiling. There was the face of my friend Ben leaning over me, crying. I tried to lift my arm to comfort him but a fractured arm does not work, either. So I said, "Ben, it is alright."

Feeling the prayers, I wasn't praying made me "alright". Growing up I had heard a butterfly wing touched in the back yard can be felt on the other side of the earth. It always sounded far-fetched but somehow, deep down, I knew it was true. Now, after countless scientific-experiments, physicists are discovering a particle, like one of the countless number that make up you and me, when separated can be tickled and its entangled counterpart will dance, instantaneously, no matter how far away the second particle is. *

Medical technology saved my physical-life that day but prayer - my velvet feeling of well-being - was saving my inner-life. I would have died without either one being activated. I could not pray laying on the road or on the gurney so maybe my Syrian-grandma counterpart cannot either. Surely then, this small table grace tonight, like a butterfly, will waltz above a stream and step straight through the firmament.**

photo source:, an oil painting -- Angelus by Jean-Francois Millet, 1859
*paraphrase: Bruce Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, author of The Fabric of the Cosmos
** paraphrase: Emily Dickinson