This is the post where I bid adieu to 2013, a roller coaster of a year. It started out as 3 different posts and as this last day of the year draws to a close has morphed into this novel. Long but from the heart, see ya later 2013.
a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship – Google
it’s truth, it’s all prayer –Ann Lamont to Oprah while discussing her book “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers”
sacred vulnerability – Carla Molina, after a year of bumping into prayer unknowingly
It began with surrender, a word in a magazine article. It put a name to a necessary skill I had yet to master. There it was meeting me when I needed it most, answering a question I hadn’t asked (in words). And because I’m no ungrateful fool, I’ve carried it with me ever since. When life feels harder than it should, I pray.
Surrender? Surrender! Surrender.
I’m not a praying person, at least not in the traditional sense. I spent the first 15 years of my life in the Catholic school system so prayer began for me as an exercise in memorization, recitation. All of it rooted in following the rules. Through their repetition, those Hail Marys and Our Fathers, despite my sometimes less than holy intention (autopilot, anyone?), those prayers became a blanket in winter.
Over a decade later, prayer has shape shifted. Not so much into something completely different but more into itself, what it was always meant to be. The beginning of my life knee deep in “prayer” taught me the mechanics, how repetition and routine can be the calling card of comfort. A comfort called love/faith/hope/whatyouneedrightthissecondtokeeponkeepingon. A good deal of living thereafter, I let go of the formal practice of prayer and spent time in murky waters figuring out what prayer means to me. And this I admit I did rather loosely, in fits and bursts of inspiration. As a mom of two young children, I’d venture to say I thought about prayer maybe twice a year.
This last year, however, has been, subtlely, a return to prayer. I’d read a concept or quote and be hit with knowing I was meant to pay attention. Like the souls I meet in life, who present themselves when I need them most, I believe the same is true for ideas. Sometimes the messenger is a person and other times just words on a page or screen, lyrics in a song, a scene in a movie. It’s a beacon for something I already know, leading it out of spiritual storage into my present heart.
In childhood, prayer was about paying homage to something greater than myself. Today it’s about a relationship, a conversation with the universe (yep, I went there).
Prayer is a sacred vulnerability to be where you are.
So today I wanted to share the prayers that found me this year, over and over again, that I’ll carry well into the new year and beyond.
When I find myself turning away from love, not rooted in kindness or patience, when my kids have worn me down to my last straw, when shit hits the fan, when everyday feels like a Monday, I give thanks. I give thanks until I’m rooted in love again. The roof over my head, the smile from a stranger, a friend’s phone call, our dog in bed every night, my daughters’ laughter, a good hair day – from the minuscule to the magnificent, be grateful for it all and everything before seems quite trivial.
How Do I Want To Feel Prayer
In the same instances I call on my gratitude prayer, I find it helpful to also question how it is I want to feel. In motherhood, career, relationships, at home, in the day to day, in all of it, how do I want to feel about these moments that make up the whole of my life? Never underestimate the power to reframe situations; it’s the difference between a good day and a bad day, a life well lived and one regretted.
Be Where You Are Prayer
Sometimes it’s not about changing anything but simply being where you are. Surrender. Life is a simple journey that we complicate for ourselves. It may not all be a walk in the park, but we can certainly make the challenging times easier by resisting less. Let it be.
GIFTS & GRATITUDE
These prayers were amongst many gifts I received in this year of highs and lows. From my daughters to our new home to my family to our new pup, I have much to be grateful for in 2013. However, what has stayed with me the most is the love that embraced me after my separation. Friends, old and new, near and far, came to me in kindness; it floored me. Friends I haven’t spoken to or seen in years, reached out to remind me of the friendship between us. Friends, who are really just a bit more than acquaintances, reached out to me in random moments, often with nothing more but an “I’m thinking of you” or “how are you and the girls?” Every time it brought me to tears; it still does.
It made me realize how important it is to have a community, to stay connected. How every life we touch truly stays with us, how no kindness goes unnoticed. How this is no solitary journey and if it ever felt like one, it was my own doing.
So thank you, friends, for holding space in your hearts and thoughts for me and mine. It’s a kindness that heals and illuminates all that is right.
This year still has a few hours left so I won’t wish it away making any claims for what’s ahead (that’s tomorrow’s post). Simply, I will sit with the lessons and gifts of the last 365 days and give profound thanks for the experience.
You were a bitch, 2013, but there is too much light in my life to focus on the shadows. So long, farewell, auf wiedershen, goodnight.