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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

 

Can We Pray for You? Chapter 2

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

 

two dolphins

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I just can’t seem to go back to sleep. The early morning is a favorite time to go walk on the beach, although it is still a bit early. Today is Wednesday. Maybe my prayer guys will be around and I can say hello and have them pray with me. I stretched, brushed my teeth, put on some sweats and headed to the pier.

I have a potential office move that has been haunting me for a while. Struggling with making the best choice possible, and not feeling like I am getting a clear answer, has caused me to feel stuck. Maybe the prayer guys can help bring some peace to my decision making process. This has been weighing on my mind for a couple of weeks now. Perhaps a prayer is exactly what I need.

I arrive on Main Street, excited to see if my prayer guys are there.  Yep, there they are, my two guys, coffee, table and sign. No cookies today. I have some money with me this time for the homeless people they serve. Today as I walk up to the  prayer table I notice a potentially homeless beachy looking guy, getting coffee from Greg. They chatted, then Greg offered him a prayer.

Very deliberately I walked up to my personal prayer guy, Bryan, and offered a cheery, “Good morning!” Unlike my tentative ask last week, today I was showing up ready to be prayed for.

I eagerly began by telling Bryan what I wanted him to pray for, but instead of immediately launching into a prayer, this time Bryan began by asking me a few questions. It seemed he wanted to get to know me a bit. My anxiety began to stir. I told him I was trying to make a decision as to whether to move to a new office, and it was a pretty big decision for me for lots of reasons. He asked where my office was located.  I wasn’t expecting that question. During my typical pier walks, I I don’t have to don my cloak of professionality, just silently commune with my surroundings. I preferred being an anonymous prayer asker. This particular morning it felt more personal, and I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable with that.

I found myself quickly becoming embarrassed asking for my prayer. After all these men are donating their time, often to homeless people, whose need must be far greater than mine. And here I am taking up their valuable time asking for a prayer about offices. I felt a shame well up inside of my throat that was difficult to swallow, as Bryan asked where my office was located. I swallowed quickly and hard, as I quietly responded, “Newport Beach”, hoping he didn’t really hear me. You see, Newport Beach is an upscale neighborhood in Southern California.

Judgement is a trickster that can creep up on us by surprise. I found myself judging myself as unworthy of asking for a prayer, once my real identity began unraveling. This man was giving his time for free, and I was potentially taking him away from more important prayers, by asking him to pray with me about something as menial as an office. I felt petty and ashamed for my ask.

Bryan didn’t flinch upon hearing my story. Once again he put his hand on my shoulder and said a beautiful prayer for me. And once again something inside me began to shift.

A Course in Miracles says, “There is no order of difficulty in prayer.” The way I interpret that is, that a prayer is a prayer is a prayer. It isn’t about how big or small your prayer request, but rather your faith in the process. Faith in yourself. Faith in the universe. Faith in this power we call God, Allah, the Creator, the Divine, the Holy Spirit, the Higher Self, the All That Is. It is that spark of hope and trust that is ignited when we can step aside, and allow something grander to stir within and guide our way.

I work with people from many different walks of life and feel blessed by each person who entrusts his or her stories into my hands. Each of us has things in life we struggle with, and each of us has things we feel good about. The vulnerability of asking for help, be it through a prayer, setting up a counseling or coaching session, or reaching out to a friend, is an important step toward living a more integrated and purposeful life.

One big hug later, I decided to leave my self-judgement behind at the prayer table, and continue my walk to the ocean end of the pier. I silently forgave myself for judging myself, and came into a greater sense of peaceful heartfelt compassion for me, for the human condition, and for others who have not been showing up in my life the way I would have liked.

Making eye contact with each person walking past, I connected with several beautiful souls. There was a Vietnamese women with a rosary in her hand to whom I smiled and said, “Good Morning”. She nodded a silent blessing.  Then there was the Hispanic man who walked up to me as I was watching the surfers, and said, “Bless you sister.”  Two very nicely dressed women handed me a pamphlet about Jehovah.

That day the Huntington Beach Pier had become a melting pot of Sacredness.  As I settled in at the edge of the pier between a fisherman and a Chinese gentleman, I felt refreshed, nourished and alive. In that moment, the decision about the office didn’t seem quite so pressing, for I knew that no matter what happened I would be okay.

And then without warning it happened. A dolphin leapt into the air just below me. Then seemingly out of nowhere there were dolphins everywhere, playfully swimming all around us. I squealed in delight. The fisherman said, “You must not be from around here.” I chuckled, and said, “Not originally, but right now I live a mile and a half away.  And I LOVE seeing dolphins. They are a sign for me that all is well.”

I stood there mesmerized, my heart filled with love. The love I felt was not for any particular individual, rather a massive love for the essence of life itself. Feelings of expanded open-heartedness blanketed the entire pier like a soft billowy cloud.  Leading with my own vulnerability created a space for something new to emerge. As I opened my heart to the people around me, something inside of me had shifted. I was able to release self-judgements I wasn’t even aware that I had, and move into a new sense of inner freedom and faith.

When we have the courage to ask, for a blessing, for someone to listen, for a date, for help with a project, or when we take the risk to tell someone, “I love you”, or “I miss you”, or even “I need you”, while it may not turn out exactly the way we would like, a doorway is opened into new possibilities of loving, being loved, and being held by this thing amazing thing called life.

While it will always be magical for me to see dolphins, that particular day, on the Huntington Beach pier, in opening to the people around me, I also saw me. What a fine gift indeed!

Can We Pray for You?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

 

pray 2

Simple sign taped to a bench on the Huntington Beach Pier. Can we pray for you?  I walked by two men who smiled at me as I passed. They had coffee in two large coffee pots, packets of sugar and cream, and a big box of sugar cookies.

Can we pray for you?

Early morning walks to the end of the pier enliven my soul. The salty sea air seems to purify things somehow. I love watching the sun begin to rise over the ocean as I search for dolphins. These walks feel sacred to me. My mom always loved the ocean. She would often talk about all the sea creatures she imagined living deep within its cavernous depths. During moments like this, I particularly miss my mom .

I am always on the lookout for dolphins.  My pier walks are a kind of dolphin quest. Each time I see a pod of these beautiful animals, it serves as a reminder that life is good. The last time I stood at the edge of the pier, I watched two dolphins leap and play. Their joy is contagious and always puts a smile in my heart.

Can we pray for you?

The question hung in the air and I questioned my own hesitance to say yes. I suppose I was a little afraid of connecting with someone whose goal it was to try and save my soul. Spotting dolphins was my soul saving experience, at least on the pier. I’ve never had anyone there offer to pray for me.

And yet, I believe in the power of prayer. It doesn’t matter to me which form someone’s God of choice takes, because to me God isn’t about a name, it is about believing in something beautiful, brilliant, within and beyond a human being’s ability to fullly grasp it. We personify the Divine based upon what we were / are exposed to. Faith is the embodiment of what we believe and the ultimate expression of God is demonstrated in the ways we extend love.

To hold someone’s hands and heart in prayer is a sacred gift from one being to another. A sort of divine human experience. To stop what you are doing and take a moment to offer a prayer to someone you love, or even someone you don’t, is a way of placing on a little salve on one of the wounded places each of us carries inside. That’s what these men quietly came to the pier to do. There were no loud and booming evangelical announcements, just two guys with coffee and a prayer.

Can we pray for you?

Heading back down the pier, returning from my unsuccessful dolphin quest, I decided that if the two men were still there, that I would answer, “Yes, of course.” I found myself  actually getting excited about the possibility of being prayed for on the pier and hoping I didn’t miss the opportunity.

I spotted them. Not dolphins, but rather two regular looking guys hanging out, talking with each other. The left side of the Can We Pray for You? sign was hanging slightly lower  than the right. I didn’t see anyone stopping for a prayer. I walked up to them and introduced myself. “Hi. I’m Jeanne and I would love for you to pray for me.” They both smiled and asked me if there was anything specific I  would like prayed for. I thought about it for a few moments, and then thought of a couple of concerns I could use a little prayer around.

Gary said that he thought Bryan would be the best one to pray for me. So Bryan touched my shoulder and began softly talking. He asked God to lovingly watch over me and keep me safe. He reminded me that each of our lives is truly in the hands of the Divine, and that our only job was to trust in God’s wisdom to care for us in all circumstances. Bryan’s prayer was simple, sweet and exactly what I needed to hear.

I gave Bryan a hug and thanked him. Figuring that they might be collecting money in exchange for prayers, I explained to him that I didn’t have any money because all I brought with me was my car keys. He told me that they didn’t accept any money, and that if someone insisted, they simply offered the money to the next homeless person who passed their way. He told me that the two of them come to the pier every Wednesday morning and explained that the prayers are their way of giving back.

I have to admit I felt better after Bryan prayed for me. And it seemed that he did too. When you pray for someone else, it  seems to change something inside of you as well. Prayer helps us remember who we are. Prayer activates hope, trust and opens us up to new possibilities.

I look forward to seeing Bryan and Gary again some Wednesday morning. And the next time I see the “Can we pray for you?”sign, I won’t hesitate to say, “Yes, I would be honored.” I may even get one on the way up and the way back!

The dolphins would be so proud! 🙂