My Art of Prayer

MOON

MOON (Photo credit: Nick. K.)

As an initial matter, I want to point out that in this post, I refer to God. That is my preference, but I understand that for others it may be Source, Divine Mother, Universe or what have you. Please feel free to substitute the term that feels right for you.

“At the end of a crazy-moon night
the love of God arose.
I said, “It’s me, Lalla.” ~ Lal Ded (Lalla), a 14th century mystic from Kasmir

Earlier, I was reading this blog and her post led me to ponder the act of prayer. For me, praying is as natural as breathing. I grew up in the very Catholic New Orleans and I spent 12 years in Catholic schools where we attended church regularly. The act of prayer was bred into us. As a child and teen, I prayed about things which as an adult are quite laughable. I prayed that I’d receive certain things for Christmas, I prayed that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself in a PE softball game, I prayed that I could attend a sleep over, and as I grew older, I prayed that a certain boy would notice me, and that I could attend the party of the century, nothing was too trivial to bring before God. At that time, prayer involved getting down on my knees in sublimation, bowing my head with reverence and making an impassioned plea for my request.

As an adult, prayer became less of this rigid, formal affair and more of a way of forming a deep relationship with God and more importantly, a way of communicating with him. In addition to requests and gratitude, I began to, among other things, share my thoughts and feelings, and seek guidance or advice, usually in the form of journaling. For reasons that I cannot recall, at some point, I became concerned about whether I was doing enough and whether I was praying correctly. I was in a quandary because if I was ‘doing it wrong,’ perhaps God wasn’t hearing my prayers.

It was during this period of rumination that I first stumbled upon the above poem. It was so simple and brief that at first glance, I passed it up. Yet, it spoke to me in a very profound and real way, and I returned to it to figure out the reason. I understand that, as with any poem, others may espouse different interpretations to it, but this is my interpretation.

In it, I read that there is no strict formal way that we must pray to be heard. In my mind, the phrase “It’s me Lalla,” implies both a close relationship in which God knows exactly who we are, as well as an approachable God. For me, prayer is akin to talking to a close, special friend that we trust more than anyone in the world. With that said, think of your relationships and particularly those in which you feel a kinship with the person with whom you are talking and perhaps, sharing your heart. Especially in the case of significant or important discussions there is an implied level of familiarity and trust with the person. In the end, we speak to God in a way that allows us to be most open and honest. The poem allayed my fears and concerns.

In my case, prayer became a freer more open-ended exchange. Of course, my adult concerns make those of my youth pale in comparison, but I value my “talks” with God, as an integral part of who I am. Ours is a two-way conversation in which I can rant, rave, question, explain, express gratitude and be exactly who I am, with no doubt that I am understood and loved. I finally realize that as unique human beings, it is little wonder that our methods of prayer, communication and relationship with God differs, and that is as it should be.

Blessings, Lydia

But, You Don’t Look Sick

“Dear God, I want to thank you for being close to me so far this day. With your help, I haven’t been inpatient, lost my temper, grumpy, judgmental, or envious of getting one. But, I’ll be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think I’ll really need your help!”

I stumbled across this prayer while reading a Kindle sample of the book “You Don’t Look Sick: Living Well With Invisible Chronic Illness,” by Joy Selak and Dr. Steven Overman. The prayer was sent to Ms. Selak by a friend with fibromyalgia–a condition that I know well.  Nevertheless, neither fibromyalgia patients, nor any group for that matter, can stake any special claim to this prayer, as it has universal appeal to each and every one of us.  Anyway, the prayer, though humorous and most mornings, all too appropriate, is not the real reason for this post.  


In November 2010, I began a blog post titled “You Don’t Look Sick,” much like the title of the book.  The post was in response to yet another “but, you don’t look sick” encounter that occurred earlier in the day.  In that particular encounter, I was just getting out of my car at the grocery store where I’d stopped to go to the pharmacy. Before I could get both feet on the ground, a woman, that I did not know, violated what any reasonable person would agree was my personal boundary.  One of the store managers sheepishly stood behind her. (I knew him well.)  Pointing her little bony fingers in my face, she said to him, “See what I told you. She is one of those people illegally parking in spaces reserved for disabled people.” You see, in my haste to get to the pharmacy, I’d forgotten to put up my hang tag. Dennis, the store manager said, “Lydia,  would you please use your hang tag?,” and he turned around leaving me to deal with the still unsatisfied and irate woman. 

She proceeded to accuse me of illegally parking with someone else’s reserved  parking hang tag and threatened to call the police and more.  I made a sincere effort to calm the lady, but there was no reasoning with her.  Finally, she uttered the words that I’ve heard time and time again, “You don’t look sick!” so that tag cannot be yours.” At this point, my patience and attempts at reason were spent and I slammed the car door and stormed into the store, before I said something that I’d surely regret later. 

Long after I returned home and the immediate sting of the incident had passed, the woman’s words continued to reverberate in my mind. I have no doubt that there are those who will read this post and consider my response as unjustified, overly sensitive, and in the category of ‘making a big to-do about nothing.’  For those without an “invisible chronic illness” or with no contact to one who has such as illness, it is often difficult to understand what it is like for those of us who do.  I mean, who can blame you when there are patients who are still confronting doctors who refuse to acknowledge their condition because it cannot be substantiated by x-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, blood work or any other means of diagnostic tools.  The underlying message becomes, in order to be deemed “sick,” there must be objective evidence supporting your illness; for example, a broken limb or a bald head (indicating a potential chemotherapy recipient or cancer patient).  The problem is further compounded when pain is the primary symptom because there is no objective way to measure it. 

On its’ face, “you don’t look sick,” (often with the emphasis on the word ‘look’) is seemingly innocuous and usually said with no malicious or bad intent.  Nevertheless, to those of us in the throes of a chronic, invisible illness; this otherwise harmless statement, raises yet another obstacle in the fight against the illness. If wishes were true, I’d gladly turn over both the hang tag and the parking space.  


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Quote Tuesday

Dear God, I want to thank you for being close to me so far this day. With your help, I haven’t been inpatient, lost my temper, grumpy, judgmental, or envious of anyone. But, I’ll be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think I’ll really need your help then!” 
      ~You Don’t Look Sick: Living Well With Invisible Chronic Illness,” by Joy Selak and Dr. Steven Overman.

From the Desk of God

The past two weeks have been unusually rough and I have been for the most part, unable to post to this blog.  I am sorry for that, and I’d like to say that it will never happen again, but ‘never say never,’ right?  During such times, I reach time and time again for, among other things, the attached memo.  It never loses it appeal for me.   Each time that I read it, and place my faith in a power greater than my own, I feel a burden being lifted from my shoulder.  It occurred to me that it may be of help to one or more of you. Its’ message certainly bears repeating, so I intend to post it here every now and again. I trust that you too might find whatever solace or inspiration that you seek within these words.  For those of you whose “God” comes in some other form, I urge you not to, as they say, throw the baby out with the bath water. Simply substitute your higher power in place of God. I believe that either way, you get the message. Enjoy!

One of my go-to web sites is www.wisdomalacarte.net, and I mean I go to it every day either via Facebook, Twitter or web. The articles are wise, well-written, informative and gleaned from the best of the best by Daniel Foisy and his partner. One day, long after it was originally posted, I came across this article.  


From The Desk of GOD
Effective Immediately:

Please be aware that there are changes you need to make in your life. These changes need to be completed in order that I may fulfill my promises to you to grant you peace, joy and happiness in this life. I apologize for any inconvenience, but after all that I am doing, this seems very little to ask of you. I know, I already gave you the 10 Commandments. Keep them. But follow these guidelines as well…
1. QUIT WORRYING
Life has dealt you a blow and all you do is sit and worry. Have you forgotten that I am here to take all your burdens and carry them for you? Or do you just enjoy fretting over every little thing that comes your way?
deskofgod_32141000
2. PUT IT ON THE LIST 
Something needs done or taken care of. Put it on the list. No, not YOUR list. Put it on MY to-do-list. Let ME be the one to take care of the problem. I can’t help you until you turn it over to me. And, although my to-do-list is long, I am, after all, God. I can take care of anything you put into my hands. In fact, if the truth were ever really known, I take care of a lot of things for you that you never even realize.
3. TRUST ME 
Once you’ve given your burdens to me, quit trying to take them back. Trust in me. Have the faith that I will take care of all your needs, your problems and your trials. Problems with the kids? Put them on my list. Problem with finances? Put it on my list. Problems with your emotional roller coaster? For my sake, put it on my list. I want to help you. All you have to do is ask.
4. LEAVE IT ALONE 
Don’t wake up one morning and say, “Well, I’m feeling much stronger now, I think I can handle it from here.” Why do you think you are feeling stronger now? It’s simple. You gave me your burdens and I’m taking care of them. I also renew your strength and cover you in my peace. Don’t you know that if I give you these problems back, you will be right back where you started? Leave them with me and forget about them. Just let me do my job.
5. TALK TO ME 
I want you to forget a lot of things. Forget what was making you crazy. Forget the worry and the fretting because you know I’m in control. But there’s one thing I pray you never forget. Please don’t forget to talk to me – OFTEN! I love you. I want to hear your voice. I want you to include me in on the things going on in your life. I want to hear you talk about your friends and family. Prayer is simply you having a conversation with me. I want to be your dearest friend.
6. HAVE FAITH
I see a lot of things from up here that you can’t see from where you are. Have faith in me that I know what I’m doing. Trust me, you wouldn’t want the view from my eyes. I will continue to care for you, watch over you, and meet your needs. You only have to trust me. Although I have a much bigger task than you, it seems as if you have so much trouble just doing your simple part. How hard can trust be?
7. SHARE
You were taught to share when you were only two years old. When did you forget? That rule still applies. Share with those who are less fortunate than you. Share your joy with those who need encouragement. Share your laughter with those who haven’t heard any in such a long time. Share your tears with those who have forgotten how to cry. Share your faith with those who have none.
8. BE PATIENT
I managed to fix it so in just one lifetime you could have so many diverse experiences. You grow from a child to an adult, have children, change jobs many times, learn many trades, travel to so many places, meet thousands of people, and experience so much. How can you be so impatient then when it takes me a little longer than you expect to handle something on my to-do-list? Trust in my timing, for my timing is perfect. Just because I created the entire universe in only six days, everyone thinks I should always rush, rush, rush.
9. BE KIND
Be kind to others, for I love them just as much as I love you. They may not dress like you, or talk like you, or live the same way you do, but I still love you all. Please try to get along, for my sake. I created each of you different in some way. It would be too boring if you were all identical. Please know I love each of your differences.
10. LOVE YOURSELF
As much as I love you, how can you not love yourself? You were created by me for one reason only – to be loved, and to love in return. I am a God of Love. Love me. Love your neighbors. But also love yourself. It makes my heart ache when I see you so angry with yourself when things go wrong. You are very precious to me. Don’t ever forget that!
With all my heart, I love you,
GOD
Author Unknown, http://j.mp/d7Zebv

Blessings and love,