Tag Archives: Belief

I Want To Get Pregnant!

Luke 1: 5-25

You have given sterility its pregnancy!  We are, once again, beckoned to believe in the impossible.  We have in our readings two stories of women who were sterile, but become pregnant.  It’s interesting to note that these stories are fairly common in the Scriptures and always the child to be born is destined to make a great difference for the good of the people.  Great things happen from seemingly impossible situations!  Can you believe it??  I have difficulty believing it, like Zechariah, and so I remain unable to speak, paralyzed in my journey.  We all experience “sterility” in our lives, in one way or another.  What is sterile in your life these days?  What’s sterile in the life of our world?  Can I believe that this sterility can be overcome and new life can emerge?  It’s just a matter of believing!  AND taking action.  What’s some small thing that I can do today to give pregnancy to a part of my life, or that of our world, that is lifeless and sterile?  If I am honest, most of the time I am like Zechariah who basically looks at the angel and says “yeah, . . . Right!  You have GOT to be kidding!”  Most of the time I am like Zechariah and don’t believe that incredible things can happen in my life and the life of the world.  And in my lack of belief, I remain like Zechariah, lifeless, speechless and a bit listless and lethargic.   We are knocked over the head again today by God who says, “Wake up!  Believe it!”  We are again beckoned to walk through our days believing that life CAN be different, that the world CAN be different!  The past couple of weeks I have felt listless.  This morning when I read these readings and pondered them, I felt deep within me “Yeah right, . . . You have GOT to be kidding!”  And then I started to change my thinking and believe that maybe, just maybe the impossible can happen.  I’m not sure if it will.  But you know what?  . . . I’m not listless anymore.  A little pregnancy has been given to my listless sterility.

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The Benefit of Religious Faith/Spirituality

A while back I said that I was interested in reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, as I was fascinated to find out how this man was able to find meaning in the midst of one of the most degrading, dehumanizing and cruel situations a person could endure in a Nazi concentration camp. I did go and pick up the book and am now just some 40 pages in. Last night as I was reading I was struck by his vivid, inside description of what it was like to live inside those camps day to day, week to week, year to year. It makes anything that I endure pale in comparison!

I was particularly struck by what he said about those who had some religious faith or sense of spirituality. They ultimately were able to endure much better, for they were able to go to a place inside themselves which nothing or no one could take from them. This is what he says about such people:

“In spite of the all enforced physical and mental primitiveness of life in the concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen. Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was much less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom. Only in this way can one explain the apparent paradox that some prisoners of less hardy make-up often seemed to survive camp life better than did those of a robust nature.” (Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, Beacon Press, Boston, 1959, 1962, 1984, 2006 p.36).

As I read this last night I was so grateful, despite its many faults, for my religious upbringing. It gave me a sense of hope, a place “of inner riches and spiritual freedom” to retreat to in the midst of difficult times. As a boy growing up in an alcoholic war zone of a home, because of the stories of faith that were instilled in me, that boy had someplace to go in the midst of his hell – and that place saved his life! And it continues to bless me in ways that I am unaware.

Perhaps today we could be grateful for a sense of Spirit that we have which gives us this place of “inner riches and spiritual freedom,” despite painful circumstances in our lives. It provides for us a way of dealing with these circumstances and rising above them and not collapsing under their weight. The seeking of a spiritual path, whatever it may be, indeed does make a concrete difference in our lives and, through us, the lives of those around us! It’s worth the time and effort we put into it.

 


Ask! . . . And Be Specific!

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s book that I’ve been reading called Eat Pray Love.  In the “Pray” part of the book, she chronicles her experience of going to an Ashram in India and learning meditation and the ways of Spirit under the guidance of a guru.  She is refreshingly honest about her struggles throughout the book.  What I read last night struck me.  She was speaking about asking God for things in prayer and she realized how timid and generic she has been in her prayer.  Becoming aware of this, she began to ask specifically and boldly for what she wanted!  Here’s a bit of what she says.  “If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur?  Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention.  If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift” (from Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Penguin Books, copyright 2006, p.177).

I was struck by how I  am not specific in my prayers.  Added to this, I‘m also timid in my asking.  I lack boldness and, frankly, I lack faith in my prayers.  There’s something in me that still feels guilty for asking, a part of me that still feels like I shouldn’t ask, or that I definitely shouldn’t ask for too much. . . .  After all the God of the Universe, who created all things from the farthest reaches of space to the farthest reaches of an atom, the God who is limitless – can only handle so much!  . . .Where the hell did I get the concept that God can only handle so much?  Who the hell am I kidding?  This is God we’re talking about!  You know? . . . The “all things are possible” God!!

Perhaps I’m afraid to be bold and specific because I don’t really know what I want.  If that’s the case, being bold and specific in my intentions is a good exercise in becoming clear about what I want in life and in the world!

Perhaps I’m afraid to be bold and specific because I’m afraid that it won’t happen – that this person won’t be healed, or peace won’t come.  Boy, does this point to a lack of belief or what?  I guess I’ve still got a long way to go!

Do any of you experience a timidity and lack of clarity in your prayers?

This morning as I meditated, I began to take time to ask, to REALLY ask.  I asked for EVERYTHING and perhaps for one of the first times in my life, I wasn’t afraid to ask for everything.  This sense that God was too “busy” or too limited in resources was gone!!  It’s as if God was there saying “Come on, don’t be afraid, ask away!  And don’t be afraid that I’m some how going to run out of good things to give to people and the world!  After all, I’m God for heaven‘s sake!”  And so I asked, and asked, and asked, BOLDLY and specifically, . . . the prayers, the intentions just came tumbling out of me (and my mind became a little more clear about what I want in a few cases!).

What do you want for those you love, for the world and for yourself?  Ask.  Be bold!  Be specific!