There are no words for the broken hearts of people losing people, so I ask God, with me in tow, to respond to them with graciousness and encouragement enough for the day. Everyone we love and for whom we pray with such passion will die, which is the one real fly in the ointment, so we pray for miracles–please help this friend live, please help that friend die gracefully–and we pray for the survivors to somehow come through. Please help Joe survive Evelyn’s dementia. Please help this town bounce back. Please help those parents come through, please help these kids come through. I pray to be able to bear my cat’s loss. Help.
I try not to finangle God. Some days go better than others, especially during election years. I ask that God’s will be done, and I mostly sort of mean it.
. . . If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and so in charge of so little.
. . . “thanks” is the short form of the original prayer I used to say in gratitude for any unexpected grace in my life, “Thankyouthankyouthankyou.” As I grew spiritually, the prayer became the more “Thank you,” and now, from the wrinkly peaks of maturity, it is simply “Thanks.”
. . . The third great prayer, Wow, is often offered with a gasp, a sharp intake of breath, when we can’t think of another way to capture the sight of shocking beauty or destruction, of a sudden unbidden insight or an unexpected flash of grace.
. . . “Wow” has a reverberation–wowowowowow–and this pulse can soften us, like the electrical massage an acupuncturist directs to your spine or cramped muscle, which feels like a staple gun, but good. The movement of grace from hard to soft, distracted to awake, mean to gentle again, is mysterious but essential.
. .. Amazing things appear in our lives, almost out of nowhere–landscapes, seascapes, forgiveness–and they keep happening; so many vistas and so much healing to give thanks for.