I AM ENRICHED BY PRAYER
Prayer is the tie that binds our hearts and minds into a human family, not necessarily Christian. I have friends that do not profess to be religious; but their behavior, even their language, is exemplary. They know, who I am and even ask me to say a prayer in their behalf, because prayer makes us feel for each other, and it enriches our lives, at least it does mine. Prayer is a line to the richest treasure the world has to offer, and that is to the heart of each other.
Prayer is like a door, which separates the outside from the inside. Naturally, I presumed that the inside is more comfortable than the outside. I am more myself and at ease inside, where no one is watching me. I am also surrounded with people and things, which make me feel accepted, and even approve of my behavior. Over time this homely feeling aged and I became stale and began to mildew. I felt like I did not have a change in menu or clothes for some time. I had no infusion of new wine, because I was afraid that my old wineskins would not endure the pressure of fermentation (Lk. 5:37-38). I became like the man that had built his house on a rock, rather than on sand (Mt. 7:24-27). The storms came and my house remained on the rock, but the house itself was damaged repeatedly. The drainage, the roof and a host of other things, needed repairing and reinforcing. I began to spend way too much time on maintaining myself; particularly, in solidifying my faith in my own salvation. I became afraid to step outside and lose myself. I forgot that it is in losing myself, that I was enriching my life ((Lk. 9:23-26).
Storms are not welcomed, and I am afraid to face them. Yet, they, more than anything or anyone else, have driven me to pray. Especially life threatening storms have broken down the door between believer and unbeliever in my life. These storms have no preference and they hit everyone. They make us aware of the need for each other and for help from some one that can calm the storms. In my eighty-four years I have had one storm, which lasted nine years, and the last one has passed sixteen years. In my family, we had four fatal storms and we are in the present of one, which is promising to restore calmness. More than 1,800 prayer partners have interceded. During all of these storms, God has raised up an army of human angels, from all walks of life, to lend a hand, not just to calm the storms, but also to rebuild our lives, so that we can face life itself. Prayer has build and is building bridges between men and men, and between God and men. My storms have not been in vain for they have enriched me through prayer.
Prayer is a universal language; it does not really need words. Feelings will do. I feel my way into some one’s life and thought. I do this by knocking gently and quietly on some one else’s feelings. I am not looking for some one to solve my problems or carry my load; but, for someone, who adds some spice to remove my mildew. It is I, who is in need to come in, and sit down with another human being, and exchange some trivial things, which may lead to a deeper exchange and understanding of life itself. I seek a sensitive and temporary relationship. I do not look for some one that wants to pile his or her troubles on me. I can barely carry my own cross. I am, no longer willing, to bear another person’s burdens. I am ready to help a person find a way to ease the load, but not to abandon it, or have someone else carry it for them. I was dependent on others, for a year and a half due to hospitalization; but after that, I began to carry my own load. I am looking for individuals, who can teach me how to carry my own burdens, and make me proud and strong that I can do it on my own, even as a handicapped. I do much laundering, at home, before I seek to open myself to others, particularly to people, who are as fragile as I am.
I am using the word “fragile” cautiously to define my feelings. In spite of my pretensions that I am strong and can take a jolt or two is presumptuous. Feelings are the thermometer we measure our relationships with. It takes seconds to determine, whether I am radiating chills or warmth, even lukewarm or very cold. Before I ice others, I warm myself up and melt into a temperature that others may feel acceptable. I cannot melt my appearance or a need I may have, but I can concentrate on something the person has or wears, which jogs my memory, and opens the door to small chat. I do not feel comfortable introducing myself with squeezing a stranger’s hand and exposing my name. I do this, when the stranger discloses the need to do so, and he may want to continue a dialogue with me on a mutual concern. I try to expose a friendly attitude, but that does not mean I want the stranger’s friendship. I do not seek his close encounter, but only a nugget, that he or she may be willing to share that day.
I am inquisitive and I do hunt for costly pearls of wisdom and understanding. I have collected many from strangers, who have crossed my path, and I have enriched my mind and cheered my heart. I am always on the look out for an experience, which I can pass on to enrich someone else. Friends, who are steady, seldom add new pearls to our collection. We laugh at each other’s jokes. I am certain that they feel the same way about me. We have exhausted most of our own resources and sort of live on rehashing the same thoughts and experiences. I find myself aging like my clothes and I begin to sound like a worn out bell. Before I open my mouth, my close family and friends already know what is on my mind and what I am going to say. I am beginning to play the same tune over and over and harp on the same old harp. What can change me and open me up to some new and exciting adventure? Prayer has been that door and source to the heart of travelers, who search for meaning of life, like I do. Without meaning life is aimless (Ecc. 1:1). Prayer has not let me travel alone or let me wrestle with uncertainties by myself. It has solicited assistance from people, who have traveled the road of life before and those that are on it with me now. Prayer has led me to bump into people, who carried insight into many unresolved puzzles life has thrown my way. These sudden acquaintances helped me uncork my own puzzle. One by one, they put the bits together and helped me explore a part of me, which I never knew I had. I believe, that God sent these people to unlock the things within me, which lay dormant and they were necessary to put meaning back into my life again. These were not friends, who sensed the hidden talent in me, but critics. It was painful to accept their suggestions, but prayer helped me bridge my strong displeasure and the implementation of their recommendation resulted in enriching my life.
The road most traveled is not the road, which enriches a solitary life (Mt. 7:13-14). The road that is narrow and nearly deserted is the one that strands travelers with nuggets of wisdom life requires. Some times, we have to venture out, into the desert, to find them. I had to be driven, into a lonely place, to meet the people with the ability to put meaning back into my life. They were not re-known scholars or recognized experts or canonized saints; but simple folk with enormous compassion for a lost traveler, who was run over by the large crowds, on the busy highway of life. I had come to a dead end road, and these precious people got me started on a new road, which gave new meaning to my life. It was prayer that brought these earthly treasures into my life. These treasure are the hearts with whom we unite and they are the ones that answer our prayers and enrich our lives.