I pray. I meditate. Not that I do either well mind you but both are a part of the rhythms of my life. I’ve seen prayer work, really work. One miracle I feel I was privileged to witness was when my friend’s young son was suddenly stricken with spinal meningitis. The prognosis was permanent brain damage, deafness and most likely death within 24 hours. In the terrifying swirl of the emergency a nurse on the case grabbed my quaking girlfriend and said if she was the praying kind to send word out to all she knew to drop to their knees. We did. Within 24 hours her child was not dead, nor deaf, nor as it turned out damaged in any way. Today he is a thriving and brilliant adult. His grandmother said that during the course of her fervent prayer she had seen the face of Jesus hovering over her grandbaby in the ICU. Those are the facts. Call it what you will.
One time in prayer, deeply I suppose, I had what must’ve been an out of body moment as suddenly I was aware that I was hovering somewhere near the ceiling looking back down at my body. That was fun.
I like to ask people how they pray? My favorite reply came from a Texas matron, a practicing Christian. In her rich drawl, she said, “Oh that’s easy honey. I get on my knees, look up and holler, ‘Do something!’ ”
I asked a Chinese painter friend the same question and with unabashed glee he answered, “Oh Lindy! All you have to do is cast your boomerang into the infinite paradise inside you. It always returns with some heavenly inspiration from the Universe. Whoopie! Ole!” (For those of you reading this who knew him, you will recognize the very brilliantly gifted Gerard D’A Henderson.)
I pray for my friends and family. I’m grateful that some of them pray for me. My hobbled together belief system leads me to feel that knowing even for a moment that a person is precious, has a shimmering soul, that they are connected to the Universe, to the great Unknown has a beneficent effect.
As my Mother drew her last breath I felt a moment of euphoria unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I was aware of grinning ear to ear, of saying “WOW” out loud three times and of seeing a beautiful yellow, white and amber plume exit her third eye. I understood this to be her essence departing. No one else present in that sacred, intimate circle of love saw it so I cannot say I saw it with my eyes. I’d read about the term “spiritual senses” and eventually came to understand that that must be what allowed me to have had that experience. On one level it was death but what I witnessed more profoundly in that moment was a transition and it changed my sense of spirituality, forever. Thanks Mom.
This morning, January 1, 2020 I woke up under the stars at about 5am. The canopy was on glorious display this moonless morning. No wind, no birds, just still splendor. It was easy to pray. In meditation I have that sense of dropping down into the sacred within. Somehow though, in my feeble Christian practice, the search for the divine presence has always involved a yearning upwards, a reach outwards. This morning for the first time when I said “Our Father who art in heaven” I did not think of heaven as being up or out there somewhere but rather inside, in that place usually sought in mu meditations. Continuing the Lord’s Prayer in that framing brought new resonance.
The sun is up now, this New Year’s Day is bright and blue. I’m lucky enough to be looking out over the Pacific Ocean through a lacing of palm trees. Birdies are in symphony and a distant cock continues to crow us all awake.
I feel fortunate to be living in a time when the wisdom of so many is available to fuel an ongoing exploration of the arena of prayer and meditative journeys. To list the prophets, Christian Science, scientists, Deepak Chopra, Joseph Campbell, Pima Chodrin, Dalai Lama, gurus ad infinitum, George Mumford, Rumi and the remarkable Rabbi Mordecai Finley is but to barely scratch the surface.
My prayer to the best of my ability today is for all of us to know as deep a sense of peace as possible and for that to translate into actions both small and large. It’s for the protection of our beautiful planet and all the wonders she holds. It’s for active compassion as we begin together our new roaring 20’s. Happy New Year. Here we go!