Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some Thoughts on Prayer

My oldest nephew was potty trained pretty early. The only thing the he a difficult time with was wiping his butt after pooping. Being a thoughtful little boy, he would call for his Mom to come clean him up. But, after a couple of weeks, my sister felt he could do it himself and told him that he was now a big boy and big boys wiped their own butts. Now, my nephew was raised a UU, but his grandparents were Lutheran and he was exposed to prayers and had asked about what they were and was given a good Lutheran answer (whatever that may be). One day he told him Mom he was going potty. She got busy with things and after a few minutes thought things were too quiet for comfort. She looked for him high and low and finally found him still on the toilet, his head bowed, eyes shut, hands folded. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Mommy," he said, "I'm just praying to God that you'll come wipe my butt!" (Sorry - John, but after 38 years, that is still funny and sweet.)

I think that day a prayer might have been answered, but after that the kid was left up to his own devises!

One of my Church Ladies friends, who is a seminary student, UU and fellow blogger, wrote a blog post on prayer, which got me thinking. Check out

I have struggled with prayer all of my life, until a couple of years ago. Who was I suppose to pray to? Heck, my prayers were never answered, so why bother? What should I pray for? Can I bargain with God? Who is this God? And why would He bother answering my prayers when there were so many, many other prayers sent to Him much more important than mine.

Through a long series of events in my life and after searching for a long time, I was led to the Unitarian Universalist church. What a concept - they didn't really pray. . . they meditated. Hmmm, could that be a form of prayer? When they did pray, it wasn't like the Lutheran prayers I was brought up with. Not to the God in the sky or to Jesus on a cross. They prayed but to a higher power, to the Creator of the earth, to Mother Nature.

Shortly after I discovered the UU church I took a workshop entitled "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven." The curriculum was written by UU minister Shirley Rank and opened up a whole new world for me at the time. The feminine in the divine. The Goddess. Mother Nature. Finally, something I could grab on to, something I could understand.

Being a lifelong tree hugger (I truly hugged trees as a kid) and nature lover, seeing the divine in Nature, the beauty that was all around me and being able to be with people who understood how I could find my higher power in Nature was wonderful. It led me to a women's spirituality (my Church Ladies) group and to another workshop entitled, "Rise Up and Call Her Name," continuation of "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven." This led to serving for over 3 years on the UU Central Midwest District of Women & Religion which involved the planning of a annual winter conference (WomanSpirit) and a summer women's retreat at Ronora . As part of the conferences and retreats, there was a heavy emphasis on ritual work. Writing, developing and participating in various rituals became almost second nature to me. It was fun, rewarding and fulfilling in many ways - both in group ritual and the small, quiet rituals I did for just myself. And I still participate, enjoy and look forward to both types of rituals.

But what does all of this have to do with prayer?

As I participated in ritual, assisted with sweat lodges, drummed, danced and talked with other women I found myself opening to the thought and action of prayer. How it came in all different forms - not only with hands folded and head bowed, but dancing, laughing, drumming, sweating, singing and ritual. I began to understand that prayer was and could be, to me, both meditation and action.

Over the years my thoughts and beliefs have changed and grown, but in my late 30s and into well into my 40s, this all had a huge, positive impact on me. And, slowly prayer came into my life.

There is a Garth Brooks song - Unanswered Prayers, in which he sings about a woman he loved and wanted as a young man. He prayed that he would have her forever. At the time he thought that what he was praying for was want he truly wanted in life. But this prayer was never answered and they went their own ways. In reflection many years later he realized that it was a blessing. He couldn't imagine what his life would have been like if that prayer would have been answered. He realized he was so happy with the way his life turned out, the way it was. One of God's greatest gifts is unanswered prayers.

When I first heard that song it was a "aha" moment. Maybe for all those years I was praying for the wrong things and, who knows, maybe even praying to the wrong . . . well, thing (person, deity, saint, God?). Maybe my life was turning out just as it meant to be - rocky roads, pot holes and all. Maybe my prayers had been answered, but just not quite as I expected them to be.

Ahhh, not the way I expected them to be.

Are my prayers now being answered? Yes. No. Maybe. I'm no longer focused on the answer, but rather the intent.

So, now when I pray it is usually a prayer of gratitude. Gratitude for my life - as it is, as it will become. I pray for loved ones in need, I pray for those I don't know, but need help. I pray that all is well in my world and the world around me.

I find myself praying in nature without even being aware of it. Planting flowers, hiking, walking the dogs, seeing birds in flight and the leaves changing in the fall. Prayers are all around me if I stop to look and listen. Sometimes prayer and states of grace go hand in hand.

I pray as a leap of faith - that there is something out there that is hearing me, listening to me. I believe there is.

I pray because I truly believe the energy we put forth in prayer makes its way to where we send it - a loved one who is sick, a friend in need, a thought for a better world. I see my prayers as bluish-white light, as a beam being sent out from my heart, my soul.

Who do I pray to? While if it is a active thoughtful prayer (not in a state of grace as in nature) I pray to both the Mother and the Father as I see my higher power as a mixture of both (with a little more emphasis on the feminine).

And I end my prayer with "Blessed Be. Amen." A nod to both my current Earth-Based spiritual beliefs and the God I was raised with.

And, sometimes I end them with this - Merry meet, merry part and merry met again. The circle is open, but never broken. Blessed be.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Caffeine Test

Thanks, Earthbound-Spirit, for another fun quiz. This, after eating a chocolate donut!

Click link to take the test:

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Girl In Town

Four generations: Terri, Lindsey with Taylor, and Terri' s Mom, Pam

My gal pal, Terri, became a grandmother for the 2nd time last week. Her daughter, Lindsey, had a little girl, Taylor Elizabeth. Taylor joins her big brother, Payton. Unfortunately, all I had was my phone camera. Terri sent me the beautiful picture above.

Hey - when Lindsey discovered her baby was a girl and decided on the name Taylor Elizabeth, no one "got" the reverse of the name of a very beautiful and talented actress! I think Taylor will be even more beautiful and talented in what ever she wants to be!

Jeremy, Taylor's daddy, just returned from Iraq and is now in Kansas. He will met his daughter on Friday. This was Jeremy's second tour in Iraq. Thank goodness he is home safe and sound. And, to make it even better - everyone in his unit came home!

Here is a proud big brother!

I guess it isn't always easy being a big brother!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Listening to the Rain

I'm listening to the rain.

It's a nice, calming sound.

Phil drove back home tonight after coming up late this afternoon. He just called to say he arrived home safe and sound and that it was raining down there, too. We both said it would be a nice night to snuggle and listen to the rain together. Oh, well . . . sometimes 76 miles seems like 1,076 miles.

The good thing about listening to the rain is I won't have to go out and shovel it!

Monday, April 07, 2008

More on Friendship

This past week I had the pleasure of spending time in Atlanta with my gal pal, Anne-Marie, who flew over from her home in Ireland.

We stayed with my sister & brother-in-law, Sue and Marty, who were wonderful hosts to both of us (well, I'm there A LOT as it is). Anne-Marie thoroughly enjoyed Sue and Marty as well as their great home.

Anne-Marie and I don't see each other a lot due to living on different continents, but when we do see each other it is like the years and miles fall away. We truly enjoy each other's company and travel well together. She is friendly and easy going and up to try anything.
Highlights included Callaway Gardens, Anna Ruby Falls, hiking the Appalachian Trail for about 4/10 of a mile - just long enough so that she can honestly say she was on it (after explaining to her what it is all about), and hiking up Brasstown Bald Mountain.

Philip flew down on Thursday and treated all of us to a great time (despite the cold and rain) at a Braves game. Marty caught a fly ball and presented it Anne-Marie and Phil arranged for her to receive a "goodies" package which included a Braves hat. Phil drove us drove down to Reynolds Plantation so Anne-Marie could see where we plan to purchase a home and live. I am so pleased that the 2 of them finally had a chance to get to know each other.

It was a busy week. Anne-Marie loves to shop so there was a lot of stores (ahhh, those Brighton bags!). And, there were wonderful chats over the tea pot.

Now she's back home and so am I. I feel a little empty. I miss her company and her laughter. We parted with no immediate plans to see each other, although we discussed the possibility of meeting in Rome or someplace in Spain within the next year or so. Maybe I'll go back to Ireland for a 4th time and we'll tour Northern Ireland or southeastern Ireland - places I haven't been yet. Maybe Phil will come along and golf while we talk and shop.
What I do know is I'm blessed with the friendship of this kind and generous woman. I know our friendship will last until neither of us are able to pick up the phone and call or text each other! And, I also know that the next time we are together it will time time filled with chatter and love.