Please enjoy this Prayer and Guidance from my new book “Intimate Conversations with the Divine.”
LORD, I BEGAN MY DAY emotionally fractured. I felt the pieces of myself scattered in my energy field like broken glass. I was distracted, unable to focus, in search of my center. Instinctively, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath—and turned inward. I needed to find my way back to my inner sanctuary, that well-worn path inside me that leads me away from distractions and into quietude. I remain awestruck by the power of a fracturing experience. For days and even weeks, I can feel the sensations of being present in my life, whole, not dwelling on anything from the past, not worried about events yet to come that I might never encounter anyway. And then suddenly, always unexpectedly, something happens, and I am reminded yet again that I have slipped into the illusion of thinking that I had accomplished a permanent state of sacred quietude, that I had somehow arrived at that inner peace that the cycles of change cannot reach. Blessed stillness flipped into swirling chaos the moment I learned of the health crisis of yet another family member. Questions I never thought I would have to deal with began presenting themselves to me for responses. Instantly, Lord, I am not my clear, conscious self—just when I need that part of myself the most. But I believe You are very much hidden—and very obvious—in all the events of my life, even when I am shattered by heartbreaking news. Perhaps some people think a coincidence is just a coincidence. Sometimes lines crossing in our lives might indeed be merely luck or a curious happening. But I have long considered luck a word that belongs to atheists and people who are afraid to look up and imagine You. I see You in those moments, especially when I am fractured—like I was the other night, wondering about the pros and cons of a medical protocol with which I was not familiar. In my fractured state, I could not concentrate enough to research information on it, much less remember anything I would read. I decided to turn on the news and discovered my television was on a channel I never watch. I wondered for a moment who had been tampering with my television, knowing that no one was in my home. And then I noticed what was on that channel. It was a talk show, and the host was interviewing a physician on the very treatment I was too exhausted to look into. I could not help but smile—and take notes. I felt the graces of hope and gratitude—and the sensation of awe—wash through me like a healing balm. I never want to cease being amazed by Your presence in my life, and I never am.
The Buddha taught that our circumstances in life can shift in the blink of an eye. Just like that, the forces of life can shift us from rich to poor, from poor to rich, from married to single, from sad to happy, from imprisoned to free, from calm to chaos. Again and again life teaches us that we are not in charge of anything but our response to the many outside currents of life—all of which are impersonal, organic, and interconnected to the whole network of life. Yet somehow, within this endless, impersonal cosmic landscape of creation, how and when and why the events of your life unfold are intimately known to the Divine. They are purposeful. For nothing is random; nothing is without cause or consequence. Experiences commonly referred to as “synchronicity” —such as a television program broadcasting the exact information I desperately needed to understand—are, for me, mystical experiences. They are evidence of the intimacy with which we are watched and cared for by the Divine. Teresa of Ávila said, “Look for God in the small details of your life,” in the ordinary world, in the most insignificant acts that make your life easier or safer or that provide that one detail that may well save the life of someone you love dearly. Through the mystical lens, anything might be a blessing in disguise.
The grace of Gratitude is ever soothing to your soul. Start small. Look for God in the smallest details of your life, shifting from the familiar Gratitude list of the big, known, and obvious. Carry a continual sense of Gratitude in you for fresh water, for a day without violence—if you are blessed enough to experience a day without violence—or for having enough food to eat and perhaps extra to share with someone who does not have as much. Live this grace. Express this grace in all your actions. It is never enough to just mentally say, Thank you. Live your Gratitude. And share this grace with others.
Lord, grant me the grace of Gratitude, especially when I fail to see all that is good in my life—most especially in those moments. I need to remind myself of all the many ordinary gifts in my life that are really not ordinary at all but true blessings. Even the ability to buy a cup of coffee when I want one is a blessing. All I have to do is turn on the television to witness people suffering, waiting upon the mercy of others for a meal or a drink. There but for the grace of God go I.