Long ago, I certainly wasn't watching SNL, but Helen and I somehow learned about "Deep Thoughts" with Jack Handy. Hilarity ensued. One of us, I believe it was Helen, came upon a set of postcards featuring some of the deep thoughts and I specifically remember finding this one high-larious.
I mention this because I fear that some of my recent blog entries have been venturing into "deep thoughts" territory. I don't mean to wax so theological. It just helps me to flesh out my thoughts when I write them down.
On that note, I have more to say on hope/prayer.
To begin, I have mentioned this before, but I am not much of a pray-er. It is really challenging for me. At the root of it, I am uncomfortable with the idea of prayer involving me asking God for something I want. Don't get me wrong, I do sometimes, but I think that when people pray in that way, it often turns into bargaining. Or whether or not the prayer gets answered ends up implying something about the asker, or about God.
A simple illustration might help me get my point across. Kid asks for new, let's say, banana seat bike with streamers on the handlebars for Christmas. Kid prays to God every night for this bike. Kid does not get the desired bike. Kid's thoughts probably veer to: what did I do wrong that God did not see fit to give me this bike? Or, what's wrong with God that I did not get what I wanted/so richly deserved? Alternatively, let's say kid gets bike. Does God love kid more then? Obviously, not.
The bike story is dumb. I know. God was not directly involved in getting or not getting the bike. Clearly, Santa is to praise or blame for the outcome. But the concept applies even to praying for much more important things. "[We] can't always get what we want." Or even what we "deserve." That doesn't make God impotent or uncaring, it's just an unfortunate fact of life.
So, in these past few months as I have been facing this reality in a more stark way than I had before, I have realized that prayer - at least for me - should be better described as focusing. Or meditation. Again, I am not "good" at this either, but the Anne Lamott book, "Help, Thanks, Wow" (which I also wrote about earlier) has helped me give voice to some of these ideas.
Instead of asking for God to do something specific, I ask for "help" to get through the day. Or I might "ask" for help/support for someone else who is having a rough go of it. Now I don't know if that person will actually receive tangible help, but I feel better directing my positive energy and thoughts their way.
"Thanks" is an important one too. Needless to say, I am really thankful right now. Especially for Jeff's doctors and nurses, but for a lot of other things as well. So I try to remember to live life with gratitude. And this is an especially good concept to remember when life is especially awful. Things could always be worse, so I try to think about that. I have greater degrees of success with that mindset depending on the situation, of course. Oddly, it is easier for me to feel grateful about very weighty things than when something truly stupid and exasperating occurs.
Finally, "wow" is one I am still figuring out. I attempt to apply it to moments when I actually stop to recognize beauty or feel a sense of wonder. Today I had a brief "wow" moment when I spotted several massive yellow hibiscus blossoms growing in the largely untended and gross MUNI park on 22nd Street. I also felt a sense of "wow I am lucky to be the parent to such a hilarious and delightful kid" when, on a whim, I took Stella to Ross this morning for the first time and she selected, one after another, the most hideous rainbow, sparkle, princess, or sometimes all of the dreaded above shirts and deemed them "beautiful." I also felt wonderfully lucky to have a child who listened when I said we weren't buying them.* Those are times when, I think, "wow" is appropriate. Obviously, viewing the Taj Mahal, seeing your infant child for the first time, watching the sun rise, etc would be good times for "wow," too.
Now I'm off to watch another episode of "Call the Midwife." Tragically, we have only two left in Season Two!
*I did shell out like $13 for some crazy rainbow running sneakers for her. I couldn't resist. They are kind of like this, but even more garish, which equates to even more adored by Stella. They are also Polo, not New Balance. You gotta love Ross.