When Prayer Happens
I know that prayer takes many forms. It happens when I’m gathered with other believers. It happens when I’m grateful. It happens when I am in great need. It happens when I see or know of another suffering. It happens best when my lips are silent and my heart is speaking. I find peace when I pray. Whatever your tradition or faith, I imagine it is much the same for you.
James Allen in his book, “As a Man Thinketh, says, “Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry.” Pp. 10-11
As a Man Thinketh is available online at gutenberg.org under the Harvard Classics.
NOTE: When we come to the awareness that we are responsible for our actions and no one else is, we can begin to make decisions that increase our success and happiness. Attributing blame to others for what we do is an excuse where we try to remove responsibility from ourselves. Awareness of our thoughts is the beginning of wisdom.
Victor Frankl says in Man’s Search for Meaning, “[T]here is also purpose in that life, which is a almost barren of both creation and enjoyment in which admits of, but one possibility of high moral behavior: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, and existence, restricted by external forces, a creative life and life of enjoyment are banned to him . . . if there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an inescapable part of life even as fate and death. Without suffering and death of human life cannot be complete. . . . The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails . . .gives him ample opportunity, even under the most difficult circumstances, to add a deeper meaning to his life.” P. 76.
NOTE; When I first read this passage it made sense to me. Each time I re-read Man’s Search for Meaning it continued to make sense for me on an intellectual level. It wasn’t until my wife, suffering from brain cancer, died did I come to understand at a heart level what Frankl meant by finding meaning in suffering. My search for the meaning in my suffering did not ease my suffering, but it gave me deep insights into the lessons that suffering was teaching me. I became a different man, a better man, because of the suffering I experienced.
From Viktor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Another time we were at work in a trench. The dawn was grey around us; grey was the sky above; grey the snow in the pale light of dawn; grey the rags in which my fellow prisoners were clad; grey their faces. . . . I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings my slow dying. . . . I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse which stood on the horizons as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning Bavaria (pp. 53).”
Note: We each have an ultimate purpose. It’s different for each one of us. Sometimes it takes mountains of suffering as Viktor Frankl experienced to discover it. Even in our deepest sufferings there are lessons we can learn if we are open to listening and acting on their message. Once we discover our ultimate purpose, our path becomes clear. We can take no other.
I like to dance. When I’m listening to music I can feel the music, my body wants to move with the beat. When we are living in the present moment, we have an opportunity to feel the beat of life surrounding us. We feel the beat of sorrow, joy, and love as people pass through our day. Feeling life’s beat creates an opportunity to actively engage in the beat (much like walking out on the dance floor). We intuitively know how to respond to each situation. Instead of standing against the wall and watching life’s dance, we can choose to dance and make the world a bit better..
We’ve all been wounded. For some, the wounds are open and bleeding. For others, the wounds are hidden, but they are there. Is it time to look compassionately at our wounds and cease blaming ourselves? Is it time to love the wounds into healing? Is it time to transform the wounds into lessons to nurture one’s growth?
Getting angry is a normal human action. What we do with our anger is always a choice. We can use our anger to attack another. Or, we can direct our anger to take constructive action. Anger meant to harm or hurt is destructive. Anger channeled to alleviate suffering, improve life, or for personal change are better ways to harness this powerful emotion.
If you’ve had the experience of suffering, you know you are strong. You know you overcame a dark moment in your life. You know you are stronger than you were before your suffering. Nothing can defeat you. Set your sails and head out of the harbor.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through tears.
It is easy enough to be prudent
When nothing tempts you to stray,
When without or within no voice of sin
Is luring your soul away;
But it’s only a negative virtue
Until it is tried by fire,
And the life that is worth the honour on earth
Is the one that resists desire.
p. 2By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,
Who had no strength for the strife,
The world’s highway is cumbered to-day—
They make up the sum of life;
But the virtue that conquers passion,
And the sorrow that hides in a smile—
It is these that are worth the homage on earth,
For we find them but once in a while.