Over the years I wrote blog posts and copy for others, I followed and studied with successful copywriters. They have to know how people think in order to write copy that motivates sales. John Carlton certainly knows how people think, and he shared these words in an email today, "Remember who you are and what you've survived... and WHY you're here in the first place. You have a purpose. It will sometimes shimmer just out of easy reach... and it will sometimes flash in your face, like a flashbulb." Oh, how I LOVE those words of truth! I bring who I am and what I've survived into every prayer, everyday.
Some powerful words from Rabbi Rachel Barenblat inspired my thinking about being there for others who are struggling. She wrote, "God's Presence is with those who are ill, whether they are aware of it or not. When we visit those who are sick, we enter into the divine Presence. The sickbed is a sacred space." What a counterintuitive thought. It's lofty yet practical, and most of us have plenty of opportunities to practice it every week - trusting that God is there for the struggling person, no matter what.
The idea of prayer as conception is new to me lately. I had to outgrow the idea of prayer as incantation or affirmation of my goals, which was a time-consuming process that continues today. I am the person who is speaking out in prayer to God, but I am not really the one in charge. God is in charge, just as God is in charge of all conception, gestation and birth. Surrendering the conception, gestation and birth of the answers to my prayers is not easy because it feels like giving up my own children. I am a pathway for my prayers, but I don't own them.
Crying out in desperation and begging for help may not seem like a worthy lifeline, but it is truly the most genuine. It's my heart-felt, emotional, personal prayers that solidly connect Heaven and Earth through me. My vulnerability is my strength in prayer. It's the opposite of the stoic strength, the lack of emotion so popular and prevalent in the world. Rabbi Tzvi Freeman says about the book of Genesis, "When it all began, Heaven was here on Earth." While I am here on Earth I want to make the most of my opportunity to bring Heaven here again.
Thinking of each breath as a prayer connection is a very comforting idea. I've been experimenting with it lately, using a video teaching by Sarah Yehudit Schneider called A Meditation From The Code of Jewish Law. Hearing the subtle sound of each breath in my mind is a practical way to connect to God in the midst of activity, not just the rare quiet times set aside for meditation.