I pray because it feels good and it feels right.
It feels right because I’m saying ‘thank you’ without a human audience, and that feels authentic.
It feels right because I’m taking a moment to reflect and ask for guidance – and not things.
It feels good because I pray for positive energy – I ask for blessings for others.
But, I am not a Christian.
I tried to be. I’ve asked ‘the’ question in the past – with an open mind and willing soul: “Jesus, please come into my heart.”
I tried because it felt like the right thing to do, but mostly because I didn’t want to go to hell.
Then I felt hypocritical asking out of fear.
I wanted so badly to believe – but not at any cost – not because I was afraid not to.
I even convinced myself to some degree that God might actually appreciate an honest heart that at least tried. Although, probably I am going to hell. If there is one.
I had to be honest with myself though. I don’t believe. I do not believe the stories in the bible happened.
And it’s not just Christianity, every religion to me, seems as if a game of ‘telephone’ (Or ‘Chinese Whispers’) has been played with it.
If there is any one and only ‘right’ religion, man has dipped his hands into it over time. As a result, I just don’t feel like what was original, authentic or intended is among the current selections.
I don’t trust man.
But I do have Faith.
I believe in a higher power. Something bigger than me. Something I’ll never understand and am not completely meant to … because wouldn’t that be counterproductive to the concept of ‘Faith’?
I do believe in the power of prayer.
I believe there is a source of good – and of love.
And for all intents and purposes, I call that God.
In two weeks it will be Christmas Day.
Although I’m not Christian, I can appreciate a day selected to celebrate the birth of a child that represented love and forgiveness. I can get behind that.
In fact, I usually adore this time of year. The extra love and kindness that the Season tends to bring from others.
The lights and the music – the joy and the hope that warms Winter.
I’m not feeling any of that this year.
I have knots in my stomach where excitement should be.
I’m looking away from lights and avoiding the holiday music.
I feel like a deadline is beating down on me that I can’t possibly meet.
I love giving.
I especially love being able to grant a wish – be able to witness a smile that reaches the eyes of someone I love.
It’s been a tough year financially.
I know I’m not the only one – but I can’t write about what other people are feeling.
I only know how I am feeling.
I know that presents aren’t ‘the reason for the season’, but I don’t want to let my son down.
I’ve always found a way.
Somehow managed to grant a material wish for the boy I would lay down and die for.
I am falling short this year.
And it hurts.
And it makes me wish Christmas wouldn’t come.
I need to pray on that.
Pray on why the need to give is so strong, that I feel ‘less than’ if I can’t do it.
Because that’s a lot different from needing to give and not wanting to do it.
I need to pray on why it upsets me so much to think I’m letting someone down when I can’t provide things they want.
Because that’s a lot different from not providing things they need.
I don’t ever want my motives to be driven by fear.
I will pray they are driven by love.
I’m quite certain they are.
It is Christmas after all, the one time of year when it’s traditional to show love by offering gifts. To indulge in a few material tokens of our affection.
I find myself from time to time almost pleading Earths case to God.
I’ll share with you my nightly prayers. I always say “Thank you.” I always end with “God bless all those in my heart, on my mind and in the world, Amen.”
The meat of my prayers is usually me asking for guidance – praying for strength in areas I’m lacking.
Sometimes I pray for more patience, the increased ability to love – to be tolerant. I pray to know which path I should be taking.
When it’s a particularly sad news day though, when atrocities have been committed and we’re made aware of them – I don my humankind legal defense cap.
As if God doesn’t already know, I plead “God, there is such GOOD in the world too.” As if I’m afraid he’s going to shut the whole event down because of evil.
I have a favorite quote, by W.H. Auden.
“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table …”
I love that quote. I love how the words feel coming out of my mouth – how the thought provokes – the simple eloquence of it.
And it, for me, is truth.
I watched a documentary this morning called “Hitlers Children.” (If you have Netflix, it’s a streamable selection. )
One particular storyline resonated with me.
It was that of Rainer Hoess – grandson of Rudolf Hoess.
He looked at photographs of his father standing in the garden of the family home on the grounds of Auschwitz. Other photos showed his grandfather in that same back yard.
Later in the documentary, he took a trip to Auschwitz – his first one.
One of the questions he pondered, while staring at a photo of his father standing by the garden gate was, how could they not have known – not have seen?
He was afforded entry into that same garden and stood at that very garden gate. The house was cleverly designed with no views of the crematorium – textured glass windows on the side of the house that might let some truth in.
The garden itself was surrounded by tall walls, offering only a glimpse of outlying buildings.
I wondered what it must have felt like to stand in that location. To know that your lineage included a monster. I didn’t need to wonder for long – when Rainer lost his composure, I did too. I wept on the couch with this man who was riddled with guilt for a crime against humanity that he couldn’t possibly have anything to do with.
During the tour, he agreed to speak to a group. He was nervous – understandably. At one point, a holocaust survivor, from that camp, wanted to shake his hand.
My already wet cheeks were wet anew when this old man took his hand and told him, ‘you didn’t do this.’
They hugged and my heart wanted to burst.
There is good.
There is good everywhere if you look for it – take time to avert your eyes from your problems and worries and choose to see it!
On a personal note, I have a friend, who takes care of not only her grandchildren – but her bed ridden mother and her disabled brother and reached out to ME to offer ME help to send my son to England! She is the epitome of selflessness to me.
She smiles and though she gets tired, she’s happy and grateful and is of service to others.
GOD! There is SUCH good.
I’ll be praying tonight to be a part of that good.
I have the Sarah McLachlan song going through my head having typed the subject. I’m singing in my head ‘… hope you got the letter and I pray you can make it better down here.” I do that. Everything tangents off into a song for me, or song prompts a movie. But that’s not what this is about.
I woke up last night thinking about prayer.
My prayers have changed.
I brush my teeth, I hit my knees and I bow my head and say ‘Hi’. Always I say ‘Thank you’. But what used to be a laundry list of requests and specifics has become one phrase I say every night. “God bless all those in my heart, on my mind and in the world”. Then I’ll toss in ‘and God bless Butters’ because she’s usually staring at me inches away waiting for her bedtime ‘cookie’.
Why do we pray?
I crack up sometimes wondering if we really believe God hasn’t noticed some one or some situation needs his attention. And if he does need that pointing out, then clearly he’s not powerful enough to do anything about it!
But he doesn’t need us pointing anything out does he. He’s not off busy doing something and not aware that someone is tugging at his shirt waiting for their prayer to be answered.
As for: “Oh, he has far more important things to worry about”. Maybe when we say that we’re realizing perhaps this ‘thing’ that we’re worried about isn’t so earth shattering. But I’m pretty sure whatever God you pray to can multi-task.
In my opinion, Prayer is for us. A realignment. Focusing our energy toward others or a goal. Experiencing humility.
I draw power from sending out light and love to others. I stay grateful telling a power greater than me ‘Thank You’. And I know that prayers are answered. So I’ll keep doing it.