My wife and I have a thing we do in the mornings. We sit down together, and then I start off by saying my personal prayers (wherein, of course, I thank God for everything he’s done and is doing for me, and ask him to protect this person, to heal that person, to guide this situation, etc.). Then Cat (my wife Catherine—not our actual cat) says her personal prayers. Next we read a passage from the Bible. Then we hold hands and together say the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, we just sit, with our eyes closed, and be with God. The whole thing takes about twenty minutes.
Sometimes, though, Cat and I don’t say our morning prayers. You know how it is: You go through phases. You start doing it; you keep doing it. You let it slide; it keeps sliding. Weeks and even months can go by either way. They can for us, anyway.
If we’re in a phase where we’re skipping our prayers, it’s always for the same reason: Too Busy. And in fact we very often are radically, life-trashingly busy. Cat works for a local nonprofit organization that feeds and cares for the homeless and protects families fleeing from domestic violence. She goes through long phases where she puts in 10-12 hour days, doing stuff that is so emotionally wrenching I imagine Mother Theresa looking down on her from heaven, and going, “How does she do it? Oh, wait. I know. Never mind.”
And then there’s my work. And I often have … um … well, you know, various sentences that need punctuating. And let me tell you, some of those sentences can be pretty darn lengthy. So that’s pretty exhausting. Plus, sometimes I have to divide the longer sentences up into shorter sentences. And that can be pretty tiring.
Really, you wouldn’t believe how often my work forces me to lie on the couch, watch a little TV, and take a nap.
Anyway, Cat and I have just gone through a very long phase of not saying our prayers. I don’t even know how long that phase lasted. Maybe five months.
So yesterday morning we started again. And (of course) yesterday we both had the best day either of us has had in, oh, I’d say at least five months.
When we opened our eyes after our final meditation this morning, we both found ourselves looking at this small painted wood cross from Mexico that we keep hung on a nail above our kitchen entry. The cross was being illuminated by a perfect circle of golden sunlight. We’ve lived here for a year, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a perfectly rounded beam of sunlight hit that or other any spot in our house. And I know I’ve never seen one so tightly and exactly surround that little cross. Which, thusly illuminated, was practically singing to us.
Today I feel as calm as I’ve probably ever felt in my life. I feel healthy, energetic, centered, and optimistic.
For months now, I’ve been deeply entrenched in much turmoil surrounding some book work I’m doing. I now see exactly what I need to do in order to regain my practical and emotional control over what has for so long now been keeping me consternated and concerned. All of my concerns about this work have evaporated.
It’s like a light has been shined on my problems.
Or, more exactly, a light’s been shined on my answer: The cross.
When am I going to learn? You give twenty minutes of your time, and in exchange get the magnificent relief and joy of God’s direct, clear, no-doubt-about-it presence in your life.
How flat-out dense do you have to be not to take a deal like that? And it’s not like saying morning prayers ever brings me a result any different. It’s not like the quality of my life doesn’t always increase about a zillion times whenever I start logging in that time.
If I wasn’t so absurdly stubborn and relentlessly self-centered, I’d be the smartest, happiest person God could make me.
Lesson #1: Let go, and let God.
Lesson #2: Let go, and let God.
Lesson #3: Let go, and let God.
Repeat as needed.