I can’t believe it has been a week since I last posted. Not to worry, I’ve been praying. Several people on The List a week ago are now off it; their situation changed or improved; they are healed. That’s the ‘good news’. I’m not going to say ‘bad news’ for those still on the list. God is still speaking to them and through them, to me and through me. Are we patient enough to still be listening?
“If you are not successful in your prayer, do not expect success in anything. It is the root of all.”
What do I think about this bold statement from Theophan the Recluse, a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church (1815-1894)?
I think he is spot on, even though the idea gives me both unrest and comfort. Unrest because prayer is an enigma, replete with questions. How do I pray? What really happens? Is there a God out there listening, and if so what/who is God? Am I praying enough? Am I doing it right? On and on.
And yet, it gives me comfort because it is a simple directive; I don’t have to concern myself with all those questions. And so, I pray with faith that I am successful: I pray as often as I can and in many different ways. I have faith that I am successful because I show up and do the best I can.
“The dying process is a process created by God to release the forces of divine energy within the soul that have always been there.” Thomas Keating, a faithful Christian monk who has spent his 93 years discerning such things, offers this wisdom. My hospice experience opened me to the truth that God embraces the dying and takes them to Himself, and, that in some mysterious way they know God is with them.
As I sit in my sunny back yard, how easy it is to resonate with Keating’s profound understanding. Dietrich Bonhoeffer might warn me of ‘cheap grace’. And yet, when I turn on the news, I am confronted with the ‘costly grace’ experienced by those shot down or run down. My faith must remain bold and courageous, so I can continue to believe that God is with those who have been given only an instant to be embrace by God before the divine energies are released. In some mysterious way, perhaps because they are so horrendous, these atrocities affirm my faith.
Here is my cottage-by-the-sea post of yesterday. On this prayerdiary blog I want to tell you how easy it was to let go of those New Age books, and at the unexpected relief I felt in doing so. The topics still intrigue me—past and future lives, energy and chakras and more, but they are all there to ponder from a Christian perspective. In these winding down years of mine, I don’t have to read everything, but it definitely helps not to have the books staring me in the face. Clarity of material possessions helps clarity of mind.
My husband and I are in the midst of a major purge of stuff. It started when our grandpet had a series of accidents on our wall-to-wall upstairs carpet; that led to the shameful confession that couldn’t remember when it was installed because it was so long ago--at lease twenty years, maybe thirty. It is time to get rid of the rug and think about hardwood floors.
This has ended up primarily being a book purge; many New Age—past lives, astrology, ‘para’ this and that. Just the thing for someone at the put-and-take. Fewer books means fewer shelves; so far we’ve emptied four.
I’ve been writing about simplicity on this blog for close to seven years. Passing these books on to interested readers opens up simplicity on many levels. When we decide to move, we will have already done some downsizing. If we stay here forever, it will be a BIG help to our kids. In letting go of all those ‘para’ books, I have released all obligations to pursue such topics. Simplicity on the material, physical plane; simplicity on the psychological, spiritual plane.
I found myself in one of those Mary/Martha situations the other day. I was Martha in the kitchen; all those sitting there-- not helping—were the Marys. The truth is, I wanted to be a Mary and have some Marthas doing the work. That’s a human understanding of the story. Of course there is more, which I’ve been pondering for the past few days.
The Mary/Martha story is at the end of Chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel, which starts out with the commissioning, sending out and return of the seventy (or seventy two) disciples, followed by the lawyer asking Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life, and the Good Samaritan parable, and ending with Jesus in the home of Mary and Martha. From world wide evangelism, to an example that everyone is our neighbor, to one’s personal relationship with God.
Embedded in this chapter is the Christian message: You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke has the lawyer responding to Jesus’ question.
He knows the answer and so do we, but following it is the challenge. Whether we are out in the world or sitting in our own homes, again and again we are called to renew our capacity to love.
When family and holidays surround us, we need prayer more than ever. The challenge is to remember; remember to call on the Holy Spirit to keep our hearts open and our minds clear of judgments. Keeping the refrigerator stocked and food on the table can feel overwhelming. We’re feeding the five thousand without Jesus to tell us there is enough and everyone will enjoy the picnic.