Sunday, May 28, 2017

"I listen to the Wind..."

"I listen to the wind,
to the wind of my soul.
Where I'll end up,
well, I think only God really knows..."

It's been forty-six years since I ran my thumbnail down the edge of the cellophane wrapping on the Cat Steven's "Teaser and the Firecat" album I'd gotten for my 17th birthday.

Within days I'd memorized every word. Within weeks my dad was threatening to break that album into a million pieces if my sister and I played it one more time.

Today, I can still listen to that album and know which song comes next, remember the exact moment when the next track will start, and anticipate the momentary pause in his voice during a poignant verse. "The Wind," is still my favorite song, and it's lyrics still leave me feeling both hungry and satisfied all at once.

Why did he not want water -- even once? Why was not wanting water important? What was the devil's lake?  Like I said, there are some songs that it will take me a lifetime to understand. And yet, for all of its mystery -- and perhaps because of it -- I love this song.  Always have, always will.

Some songs reveal themselves in bits and pieces. About 25 years ago I had an experience that helped me gain some insight into this song, especially the lyric:

"I listen to my words,
but they fall far below..."

Our daughter was about 4 years old. It was a snowy morning and I was in a hurry to get her to preschool before heading back to my office for a full day of calls and appointments. I buckled her into the passenger seat of our old car and came around to the driver's side.

When I say "old car," I really mean old car. We were a very young family with a very modest income. The car I was driving - although clean and reliable - was rather rusty, worn, and road weary. I'd patched the floor with cardboard, and the clutch pedal had lost its rubber pad.  

That morning, as I hurriedly pressed down on the clutch to start the car, the snow-covered sole of my shoe slipped off the pedal.  Its metal edge popped up suddenly and caught my ankle bone.  I heard -- and felt -- a sharp crack.

Our daughter loved to pray. She knew that was what her mommy did for other people, and so she would sit at her little desk and pray for her dolls and her stuffed animals. But sometimes, she would also pray for her friends and our dog. 

In that moment - sitting in the silent car - I knew that I couldn't walk back into the house and call someone to help me, so I turned to her and asked her to pray for mommy.

Immediately she closed her eyes. Within seconds I realized that all of the pain was gone and I could freely move my ankle. I have to admit I was surprised at how instantaneously the situation changed.

I turned to our daughter and exclaimed that I'd been healed. I thanked her, and asked, "When you were praying for mommy, what were you thinking?"

I will never forget her response -- or the look of exasperation on her face. It was as if she was repeating something to a child she'd been instructing on the same subject for years.  And I still hadn't gotten it. She said:

when I pray
I don't think,
I listen."

It literally took my breath away, and then it changed my sense of what it means to pray -- forever.

It also explained -- for me -- something Mary Baker Eddy writes on the first page of her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in the opening chapter, titled "Prayer":

"Prayer, watching and working,
are God's gracious means..."

Prayer is not my means for reaching out to God. It is God's means for communicating Truth to human consciousness. Prayer is not my means for mentally rehearsing scripture, inspiration, or quotes. Prayer is God's means for reaching deep into my heart with His/Her Truth -- revealing whatever I need to know in, and about, any given situation.

My job was not to think, but to listen. To listen from a very deep place of humble surrender.  To listen with the childlike trust of a toddler attentive to her parent.

Earlier, in the Preface of Science and Health, Eddy states that:

"The human mind is not a factor
in the Principle of Christian Science..."
Silencing the human mind is a constant discipline. For over twenty-five years now, I have been humbly reminding myself that "to pray," is not to think, but to listen.  

The human mind so desperately wants to be a contributing factor, a collaborator, a partner with the divine -- it wants to believe that it can create a prayer, create an environment ripe for a miracle, create a thought that will flip the switch on a situation.  Silly ego mind -- you are not a creator.  You are not a factor in the Principle of Christian Science -- the law of God. 

So, over and over again, throughout each day and into long nights, I arrest the human mind's desire to be heard, silence its running dialogue with itself, and quietly listen for the voice - the Word - of God.  And where I'll end up -- where it will take my heart -- only God really knows.

offered with Love,


1 comment:

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