Friday, June 15, 2007

Q: Different prayer paths

Here's an interesting question:

There was an article written by a woman who has a son with Downs' syndrome. She makes the statement that her son "had a useful place in life, no matter what the material picture." That started me thinking.

The article doesn't reveal how she might have prayed, but I wondered, how should she have been praying for her son? to find his "useful place in life" or for his Downs' syndrome to be healed? Shouldn't we always be praying to see through the material picture (i.e. heal the Downs' syndrome), not to find our useful place in the midst of it?

The words that leap out at me in the question are "should" and "shouldn't." I think we always need to pray the prayer, "There but for the grace of God, go I," and realize that we can't determine for another where their path is leading them. We need to trust that each person's prayer and inspiration is valid for them, where they are on their journey, at that point in time.

If we were in the same circumstances, it's possible we would be led differently, but that's still valid. If we're all following divine Love's leading, we can't go astray.

I still remember the first time this lesson hit me over the head. I was in Los Angeles for the first time, and interviewing with people at some studios as research for a book. One gentleman was a long-time entertainment professional who happened to be a Christian Scientist. I was in my mid-twenties; he was about fifteen years older.

Well, we got to talking about Science, and it turned out he had very very different ideas on how you could live the life than I did. But I could see that while my conclusions were based on what I'd always been told was right by older people who I assumed were wiser, his conclusions were straight from experience. His life and practice exemplified what he believed. My practice was still mostly theoretical.

So, I shut up and didn't argue. I accepted as valid for him the conclusions he had reached. They wouldn't have worked for me, but they did for him.

My point is that I believe the best way we can support and learn from another's demonstration is to be prepared to accept the path they're on and the validity of their conclusions. Perhaps we can consider how *we* might have handled something differently, but we can never say how *they* should have handled it. Sometimes we will experience complete freedom from the circumstance; other times we will learn deeper spiritual lessons through undergoing human adversity.

Per the above question: However this loving mother must have prayed, it's clear she's feeling the presence of Love in her relationship with her son. If that's bringing her a sense of healing and harmony, the prayer worked.

That isn't to say that if I were faced with a similar circumstance that I'd pray or expect exactly the same thing. I might experience another form of Love's presence. *Any* expression of Love's presence is valid—and powerful.

To me, it's not about praying for a specific outcome. It's more about cultivating the heart of prayer to feel more of God's presence. Pray for increased harmony. When that increase comes, recognize Love's presence and give thanks. Then, you're fitted to "receive more."

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 6/15/2007 12:40:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

This has been a good reminder for me of why I love this spiritaul practice of unconditional love so completely.

One of my cousins has been labeled with a divelopmental disability since birth. He is now in his 50s and as my Aunt and Uncle lovingly raised all three of their beautiful children I assumed that his siblings had thought through their choice of spiritual practice, but that he had not. I had assumed that he attended and practiced the same religion as his parents, because he had no choices.

But one afternoon, while visiting with he and his parents at the working farm for developmentally challenged men and women that my aunt and uncle had founded, I realized that my cousin wasn't a devoted church member and genuinely "christian" person because of them...but because it was his nature...and that his presence in his family's life had led them to a life of true Christian charity and selfless service.

His life had, to a great degree, set the tone for theirs...

So....I stopped thinking I knew what it meant "a healing" looked like. My cousin is, and has been, one of the most authentically kind and persistently loving human beings I have ever known...I have learned much from him and from those who have spent their lives serving he and his peers.

I think my world would be much less lovely had my cousin become a banker or my uncle have devoted his life to golf instead of teaching men and women (who have been labeled as "lower functioning' or disabled) how to carved beautiful birds out of wood, or care for little lambs or harvest angora wool from the coats of gentle bunnies.

I've never known more able hearted beings than my cousin and his friends and the hudnreds of children and adults I taught as a special needs teacher...I am so grateful for their "high functioning hearts"...

The word "Heal" has at its root the word "whole" holes in God's All-in-allness!

Again, thanks for the reminder you..

At 6/15/2007 01:33:00 PM, Blogger PtCakes said...

I love your insight. Regardless of the readers religion, this reflection on prayer has wisdom for all.

At 6/17/2007 03:13:00 PM, Blogger Debra Woodward said...

Hi Laura,
Its been a long time since we have talked--too long. I have started reading your blog through a link on Kate's. I love the ideas shared here by you and Kate. I have also been giving a lot of thought to "what is healing?" and what does it look like in our human experience. I think that part of the work of humility is to stop us from judging what is right for others and let them follow their own path to God. All roads lead there one way or another.
Thanks for writing.

At 6/19/2007 03:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I believe it is people's perceptions and thoughts that need to be healed and not the "special needs" child.

As a mother of a developmentally delayed, autistic son I spent many years worrying and crying about my son's development, or lack there of. I sought out therapists, read articles, searched the web and generally did everything I could think of in the hopes that someday he would be "normal". From the time he was 7 months old he saw at first two and then 3 different therapists several times a week. I spent many hours at home engaging him in therapeutic activities as well. He had numerous sensory issues including oral sensitivities. Getting him to eat a meal could take up to three hours, with many sessions ending with him falling asleep at the table. I did everything each therapist recommended with the hope that one day he would catch up with other children his age and be "normal".

Before he turned three we were told his delays were caused by a genetic difference. I was crushed by this diagnosis. To me this meant he was "unfixable"... he would always be different. Over the next year, after crying many tears, I had a healing... not fixing my son, but fixing my preconceived notions of who he should be or become. I began to accept my son for who he was... a happy, bright, loving child who would never knowingly harm a soul. I stopped trying to make him into our world's generally accepted idea of who a person should be or what they should be able to do at a particular milestone in their life. I began to think of myself as blessed for having such a wonderful loving boy who would shower me with hugs and proclamations of love and gratitude.

Shortly after he turned three he was diagnosed as autistic. This time I was hardly fazed. I didn't care what label doctors gave him; he was still the same child with the same unique characteristics. In fact, I welcomed the label as it made him eligible for the extra help he needed in school and allowed him to participate in programs where he met other amazing out of the norm children. He played on soccer and little league teams comprised of children with autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Watching him or one of his teammates score a goal or hit the ball and run to first base was awesome! Their joy at their accomplishment was overwhelming and contagious. They were so thrilled with themselves for every achievement, no matter how great or small. If only we all could celebrate ourselves as easily and confidently.

Of course I pray that my son will someday be independent and able to care for himself, but my husband and I are planning financially and emotionally in case he is unable. We have instilled in all three of our children a sense of family and loyalty, and know that they will look out for each other after we are gone.



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