When everything works right with work, clarity of purpose meets will to follow guidance on how to fulfill said purpose. It’s easier to sort out which tasks which are mine to do and those that are not. It’s routine almost to bless my challenges and those of others, then just do my paid work while doing the work of simply living. Thus, tasks mundane and profound get done simply and well, with a spirit of kindness and compassion.
And then there are days like today. Days like this Monday morning after Thanksgiving that came way too early. Days when it’s so unclear about what to do first and how to stop wasting time and energy in stewing and fretting. Days that call not for dramatic breakthrough wisdom but for the smaller, moment-to-moment acts of protecting what I know to be true from such threats as perfectionism or wanting to avoid doing something that just must be done.
Days when the only prayer I can say is “God Guide me,” when I haven’t the foggiest notion of who or what God is.
Sometimes, the Simplest Prayers are Best
If you’re like me, it’s so easy to get drawn to drama. Last night while I was watching yet another version of Ebenezer Scrooge’s dramatic breakthrough from workaholic miser to loving and guided human being, a neighbor knocked. He and his girlfriend had just been robbed at gunpoint and needed help.
The part of me that loves drama could spin details about the whole event into endless scenarios of how awful it is, how hopeless it is to try to do anything. The part of me that can actually do anything is much humbler and more willing to feel the vulnerability of the whole situation.
So in these moments when I am in my right mind, the prayer is simple. God — whoever or whatever you are — help me see more clearly. Help me be with these neighbors in the best way possible. Help me join with all my neighbors to keep each other be safe amidst forces that aim to harm us or who just cause harm because they don’t give a hoot about us. Help me see my piece in the whole job of building peace in my local community and in the world around us.
And as I take on more of the work of peace building, help me do my usual job of earning the income we need to meet our worldly needs.
Sometimes, the Best Spiritual Practice is Just Muddling Through
I can’t say that this mornings’ prayer over what’s on my plate has brought beautiful, eloquent wisdom. I can only say that my plate is quite full.
A church we used to attend always had a ceremony of lighting candles for joys and concerns. Today, among my concerns are my hurting neighbors as well as the robbers who must also be hurting underneath their bravado. There are also concerns about some client projects that need to be completed, marketing and sales work which needs to be done more efficiently, and health concerns that require me to do a much better job of taking care of myself.
And there are so many joys: a loving marriage, growing friendships, deepening relationships among far-flung family, clients who write back “thank you” when I send out their bills. New opportunities, new hopes, even more grounded hopes for peace in a currently hurting world.
Since there’s no room on my desk to light a candle for every joy and every concern that meets me this Monday morning, I light now only one, with the ongoing prayer, “God guide me. Even when it’s not clear what help I need or what help I am called to give others. Just guide me, whoever or whatever you are. Thank you, and so be it; so it is.”
As always, many blessings,
Pat McHenry Sullivan