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How do I write this without preaching?
Let me begin with this statement: Praying is what happens when we use God as an excuse to talk to ourselves. Think about that for a moment; it’s not a simple statement. Nor is God diminished or dismissed by it.
Religiously speaking, praying connects one with God and the saints when seeking insight about or help with the complexities of living. One turns to God for solace and understanding, and, when things go wrong, with hope that God will somehow intervene to make things better. But as my very Irish Mom would say, “God helps those who help themselves.”
Traditional prayer and its workings are timelessly described and explained in the classic book, “The Meaning of Prayer” by Harry Emerson Fosdick, published 1919, for a war-torn world ravaged by the pandemic of the Spanish Flu. (Sound familiar?). Fosdick’s “little book” as he calls it treats praying as essential to religion and natural to the human condition
Psychologically, praying is a way of wanting and wishing life to be better. It is a turning inward to the deepest part of self to tap into an energy that binds us all.
Every bit of creation has a piece of its creator at the core of it. Every work of art, music, architecture, every apple pie embodies, reflects something of its creator, just as these words do. And so do all of us. At the core of each of us is an energy we can turn to when trying to understand and appreciate life’s gifts, or to get through life’s toughest times.
If this is true, we are all connected by that energy. Praying is a language that recognizes and honors that connection. If, according to chaos theory, the flap of a butterfly’s wing can ripple through our world, just imagine what every death does to all of us. But also consider what praying might do.
Many see that energy as God, who has a variety of names, one of which is Love. But whatever its name, nothing is more timeless and powerful. Praying, whether for self or others, may be seen as compassion but also as an expression of Love. In thought, word and deed praying is like the butterfly’s wing.
These are perilous times in which more than ever we need one another to get us through. No one lets us know that more clearly than those on the front lines who are fighting this virus for all of us. They know firsthand that with this pandemic thoughts and words are not be enough to turn the numbers around.
Our deeds, such as sheltering in place, wearing masks and maintaining social distance, are crucial to taming this deadly virus. If doing whatever it takes can be seen as praying, perhaps many more will do so.
Thus, the plea.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist wrote that if we could “harness…the energies of love … for a second time in the history of the world, man would have discovered fire.”
Could that be what this virus is meant to teach us?