How Prayers Are Answered

That’s how prayers are answered: some doors get locked and others get opened. And then there’s the waiting room. I know my friend is now in that waiting room, fearing that no door will open for her again now that this one has shut. I know better, though I have no idea what you’re up to. I told her to just surrender the mess of everything to You. Earthly chaos is really your sandbox. You will reroute her life. I told her not to interfere with Your plans for her. No offering You advice or limitations or restrictions. Surrender means surrender. Let go, and let You have at it.

— Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Divine, p. 119

Photo: Bluebell Trail, Bull Run Regional Park, April 18, 2008

Rejection Is Protection

I saw such sorrow on a friend’s face today, Lord. Something did not work out the way she had hoped. There was once a time when I would have prayed for her to get the position she was aiming for. When I think of that now, how I used to pray, I wince in my soul. It took me years — and maybe lifetimes — to understand my folly. Thinking that I know what is best for someone, and that You require my guidance — my intervention — to direct another person’s life! I often replay the dream I had years ago, at the time I felt the doors had suddenly closed on the career I had chosen. I had been lamenting not getting my way. I was feeling sorry for myself, rejected by something I wanted, and abandoned by heaven, so to speak. I was not in good shape. But in a dream visitation I was informed that “earthly rejection is holy protection.” I woke up calm. Tranquil, as if I had slept under a blanket of grace. I have never doubted again — not once. When I released my unmet expectations to You, You led me down a path I did not see coming. One I could not have imagined because I never knew it existed.

— Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Divine, p. 118

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 27, 2021

Giving Up Control

Just because you do not have the right word for God does not mean you are not having the right experience. From the beginning, YHWH let the Jewish people know that no right word would ever contain God’s infinite mystery. The God of Israel’s message seems to be, “I am not going to give you any control over me, or else your need for control will soon extend to everything else.” Controlling people try to control people, and they do the same with God — but loving anything always means a certain giving up of control. You tend to create a God who is just like you — whereas it was supposed to be the other way around. Did it ever strike you that God gives up control more than anybody in the universe? God hardly ever holds on to control, if the truth be told. We do. And God allows this every day in every way. God is so free.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 51

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 12, 2020

Unenforceable Rules

The good news is that challenging unenforceable rules is a simple process. Unenforceable rules make their presence known. You do not have to look far to find them. They do not hide under the rug. Every time you are more than mildly upset with the actions of someone else it is because you are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule. EVERY time you are more than mildly upset with your life it is because you are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule.

You will not stay angry or hurt unless an unenforceable rule of yours has been broken. You can be sure an unenforceable rule is operating when you feel angry, bitter, depressed, alienated, or hopeless. I am not saying there will be no sadness or frustration without unenforceable rules. I am not suggesting having feelings is wrong. What I am saying is that underneath your most painful feelings are rules you are helplessly trying to enforce. If you worked on challenging your rules when you start feeling upset, then your bad feelings won’t last and won’t be as severe.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 128

Photo: Heidelberg, Germany, December 1996

Liberation Time

And yet, there is a resurrection that comes with loss. People can no longer see in us the person they saw before, true. But that is one of the gifts of loss. Loss frees us to begin again, to be seen differently, to tap into something inside of ourselves that even we were never really sure was there. But, whether we knew it or not, did badly want.

We can now — perhaps must now — be ourselves but in some very different ways. We don’t have to go on making a success of the family business. Or even being Mrs. Anybody. Or being called upon so often for the same things in life that we never get to show the world that we can do other things, as well. No doubt about it: Loss is liberation time.

Then we must begin even to know ourselves differently — as more than the mother or the son, the doorman or the doctor or the groundskeeper or the mail carrier. Now we have to dig deep inside us to find out what other parts of ourselves are waiting to be discovered.

— Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight, p. 103-104

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 12, 2019

Praise and Blame

We all clamor for praise and recoil at blame. They are oddly and equally seductive. They pull us away from our center, and yet we strangely have grown dependent on blame and praise. Instead, we have to find our way to notice and return. Notice the positive sheen of praise and still refuse to cling to it. Choose to move quickly back to the center. Let the pang of this blame wash over you, abide in it, and then return immediately to your center. We want the “bliss of blamelessness,” as the Buddha would say, and yet find ourselves attaching to the praise of the crowd or the surly comment of the disgruntled. We try and gently catch ourselves when we’re about to let resentment harden into blame and let the illusion of praise define who we are.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 104

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, October 24, 2018