Not long ago I was asked to speak to a small group about prayer and praying, which are rather distasteful words to most of us. And yet we’re praying all the time. Thoughts are prayers. When we’re worrying, we’re praying for what we don’t want to have happen.
When we’re struck by the beauty of the spaces between the branches of the trees (this
is where you see the angels, by the way), or when our hearts lift in thanksgiving, praise
and adoration for this pretty little world—we’re praying powerfully. Why? Because what goes round comes round; what you think is what you attract. Think dismal and depressing, hateful thoughts, worrying about all you fear and lack… and guess what? You’re filled with fear, hate and lack. Think optimistically with gratitude and love, and you find the Universe turning itself inside out to bring you good things.
I should add that I no longer go to church. There’s no time for prayer! You’re
standing, kneeling, reciting, responding, singing, or listening: there’s no space for silence or “the peace that passeth understanding,” no time to hook up to love, which after all is the point and purpose of why we think to pray.
At the talk I decided to read a passage from my book, The Path of Prayer, and
then to tell a story, and by the time I finished—oh, my heart was winging in the rafters
with joy! Why? Because I’d been talking about love and how much we are loved by the
Universe which for want of a better word we name God and which wants more and better for us than we can possibly divine (I know it’s a terrible pun!).
First I’ll read the passage (p. 18) about what praying is about, and then I’ll tell the
story of a miracle—or angels, just a little miracle, but one that comforts me whenever I
When I was first setting down my stumbling thoughts on prayer, I had a dream. Many
times our prayers are answered in a dream. In my dream I found myself in a strange
landscape where everything was a little “off” lopsided or slightly displaced. I was
going home, but I was lost, and as I walked along a path beside a river, I saw a house.
I stepped in as easily as Goldilocks, walked confidently inside with no more thought of
trespass than of bears. The house was empty. It was beautifully furnished. I made myself comfortable, but all the time I knew I was going home, and this house was not it.
I was on the telephone asking the operator for directions—“How do I get
home?”—when down the stairs poured a river of little children, flowing around their
lovely mother. We greeted each other the mother and I, with open pleasure. She was as serene as the Madonna of Guadalupe, and the children played happy as puppies at our knees. The woman was not the least upset at my having intruded in her house. Smiling she told me the way home.
In my dream I continued my journey, walking beside a river, and suddenly I met
my own mother! Now my mother had been dead for twenty years, and in my dream I
knew it. We were so happy to see one another! We faced on another, looking in each
other’s eyes, and she said “I love you,” and I said, “I love you,” and she said, “I love
you.” And I said, “I love you.”
Then I woke up. But I knew the dream was about prayer. Praying is how we get to
go home, and when we’re home, it’s our Mother we meet, not necessarily the mother who failed us or had her own problems, but the mother of our hearts, and she is looking in our eyes and saying, “I love you, I love you.” She is saying, “I love you,” while looking in our eyes.
Okay, the story: years ago I had a great friend, Dorothy. She was around 95 when
one day she suffered an anxiety attack. Suddenly, she grabbed a pencil and wrote down as fast as she could this dictation:
Don’t fret. You have nothing to worry about. Just relax and let things come along in
their proper time. Let Quiet Peace and Harmony rule and avoid stressing situations.
Let them be born, live and straighten out pleasantly, not with fretting or urgency but by
Simply Accepting the Fact—It Will Work Out if you let yourself be Led instead of trying
to force matters. All is Well and All will remain well.
Dorothy was so astonished at this “dictation” that she telephoned me to read it,
and later she gave me the card in her own beautiful calligraphy. I tacked it to the bulletin
board over my desk in Washington D. C. And that would be the end of the story, except
for the miracle.
One day, I was at my house in New Mexico and this time it was I who was
paralyzed with anxiety about a writing deadline. I was lying on the couch, quivering with
fear,and praying (“Help! Help!”), when suddenly to my annoyance I spotted a piece of
paper lying in the middle of the floor. I had just vacuumed and cleaned. I was so irritated
that I rolled off the couch to snatch up the offended white paper and throw it out. To my
astonishment, it was Dorothy’s card in her own lovely writing: “Don’t fret You have
nothing to worry about. Just relax and let things . . . .”
But that card was tacked to my bulletin board 2000 miles away! How did it get to
New Mexico? Or on the floor I’d just swept and vacuumed?
Today, it still sits beside my computer in Washington DC. It reminds me not to
worry. It reminds me that loving is the highest form of prayer. It reminds me that we are
cared for and cared about with such intensity that this love spills out of us, overflowing
the basket and pouring onto everyone around, praying for them wordlessly, with the
thoughts of our loving, open hearts.
Thank you, thank you, Sophy. Your words always appear when I most need them. Another “little” miracle.
I am overflowing with joy after reading this! Thank you.
I have a question about your blog post (and thank you for your beautiful words). You stated, “when our hearts lift in thanksgiving, praise and adoration for this pretty little world—we’re praying powerfully,” but then you say, “I should add that I no longer go to church. There’s no time for prayer! You’re standing, kneeling, reciting, responding, singing, or listening: there’s no space for silence or ‘the peace that passeth understanding,’ no time to hook up to love, which after all is the point and purpose of why we think to pray.”
If you can find prayer in lifting up your heart in thanksgiving and praise of the world, why do you not lift your heart up in thanksgiving in praise during the church service? This is the intent of the Mass; to be one long, glorious, uplifting prayer. The kneeling in reverence breaks us out of our tendency to “just sit there” and allow our minds to wander. The recitation of the liturgy unites us with all the other people, around the entire globe, who recite the same liturgy, which creates an energetic uplifting of powerful prayer in unity with others. The responses unite us with the entire present congregation and with the priest acting as a divine mediator in helping us conduct the sacred prayer of the service. The singing is a prayer; and the listening, in our interior silence, is yet another way to develop prayer. Thus, not only is there plenty of time for prayer during Mass, but indeed the entire Mass is a prayer.
I suppose it’s all in the way a person perceives something. One person can look at the spaces between the branches of trees as nothing but a void between limbs, while another (such as you, and I), can see the Divine Presence and the sacred prayer in the space. One person can see the Mass as just a series of getting up and down and mumbling something with their lips but not their soul, while another invests their entire beinghood in the sacred prayer of the liturgy. My thoughts, anyway!
Thank you again for your books and writings.
I loved the way you described the prayer that is/can be when saying Mass….It is in our way of perceiving I do believe…And prayer can be/happen at any moment during any day….it’s in our perception of those moments and days…Thanks for sharing your perspective…
Needed these reminders of what I also believe…thank you! Perfect (of course) timing.
Those words just hit me in my solar plexis. I wanted to be at your seminar today but could not make it. I have a heavy heart over something and came online to pick up messages when I saw this lovely message. All I must do is relax and allow things to resolve in their proper time.
I remember reading that story in your book “The Path of Prayers’…such a cool story and miracle…Thanks for your post. I have one friend in particular that I want to share this with. Peace Sophy…
Yes, thank you for remembering! I’m so struck by how forgetful I am. You’d think that once you have a couple spiritual experiences, and every day see that things are working out for the good, that you wouldn’t need more reinforcement, but I notice for myself that I need Reminders every day. In the AA program they say that we have a spiritual reprieve but only one day at a time, and then you have to start the work all over again, remembering…. Love, sophy
wow!! Isn’t that the truth!! Thank you for that reminder!
Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful. Yes, miracles…sometimes they are just every day normal things, just a little bit out of order.
I found, when I did go to church, oh so many years ago, that the time for prayer and reflection was after church, during coffee hour when when everyone else was downstairs talking.
ThAnk you! …. Always