Prayer’s not just for religionists

In my previous posting I said, “Friends often want to know if I have any profound revelations to share? I think it is their way of asking if my experience left me mythologically magnetized, attracted to a particular religious perspective. “No religion, no answers,” I assure them.” prayer 8028361767_3373ec8bd5_m

‘So, you don’t pray?’ I’m sometimes asked. The question always struck me as strange.

Prayer is not the exclusive domain of the religious. Like air, it’s available to anyone with the ability to breathe. Besides, to be religious you have to be a religionist. That is, you have to believe in religion. It’s a huge step to take.

In fact, I shut down my outer voice and speak wordlessly within. I connect to something timeless, that spans many dimensions, here and elsewhere. Prayer, to me.

But I try not to make it sound like I am asking Santa Claus for a bike. And I try not to picture an old man who has needed to shave for an eternity. And I try to make all supplications positive energy bursts that seek help for others rather than myself.

There is no doubt in my mind that as we wield our imaginations, so do we paint the world of events. That faith is a productive activity, and intention evinces our real being, is quite clear to me.

Bottom line: Reality begins within and moves outward. If we truly understood the power of intention, we could solve any problem to which we turned our honest attention. So, be careful what you pray for. But don’t forget to pray.

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Conscious enough

The previous posting ended with the words: “How stupid, to panic about one’s trash. Yet, these are things that are important when one is not fully conscious of one’s life.”

The important word here is “fully”.

I was not unconscious by any means. But when I truly accepted my situation, an emotional consciousness collided with a body awareness on a cellular level. I was floating in new psychic territory. As I transitioned from illness to the promise of a second chance at life, this sensitivity deepened, broadened.

Friends ask how my life view has changed since my experience. As often as I hear that question, I still pause before answering, checking to make sure I am not on auto pilot, and that I still believe what I am about to say.

“Like you, I have known for some time how fragile and brief life can be. But after circling theScreen Shot 2015-05-31 at 2.48.28 PM edge of my mortality for a year, my sense of life has become much more visceral. And with new lungs, my sense has become transcendent. I always knew that life could end at any moment. Now I feel it, celebrate it. As strange as it may sound I don’t think I want life to be any less fragile and brief than it is. It’s what makes it so special.”

Friends often want to know if I have any profound revelations to share? I think it is their way of asking if my experience left me mythologically magnetized, attracted to a particular religious perspective. “No religion, no answers,” I assure them. “Instead, I embrace the mystery. It is our friend. We wouldn’t want to know all the answers. Then what would we do?”

Then I start gesticulating, pointing to something in front of me that is invisible, but which I sculpt so convincingly, that it seems to take shape in the clear air before us.

“It is as though I can reach out and press my hand against an invisible yet tactile dimension, like pushing against a cellophane membrane that is everywhere. I can’t see it, but it pushes back. One day I will press against it and I will break through it. At that point I will find myself sliding into my new home somewhere beyond what we can see. Part of me can’t wait. Another part of will resist with every fiber of my being. It’s the tension that every good story needs.”

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Looking back

JUST BEFORE MY DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT, I was ingesting 10 liters of oxygen, 24/7, from a machine so loud that we had to stick it in the garage and run 50 feet of tubing inside to the dining room table, where I sat most of the time. I sat because I was unable to walk five paces without becoming winded. I had come to depend on the chairs we had placed strategically throughout the house that provided rest stops whenever I journeyed to a distant room on the first floor. Life had become all about managing my oxygen supply so that I could get through the day.

I had devolved into someone with the dependency of a five year-old, needing help from my wife with everything. Everything. Taking a shower, making meals, putting on my socks.

I would sit for hours, watching movies on my computer while tapping out what in retrospect feels like SOS signals to friends. I had dived deep into the moment in order to avoid the present and, above all, the future, which most likely consisted of a slow death caused by sluggishly suffocating within my own body, while being poisoned by the CO2 that my lungs could no longer expel. That is what idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) does.

I reminded myself every day that life could be worse. I was sure there must be many people in my position who did not have the wonderments that I enjoyed, like an extraordinary wife and support structure of family and friends, and great health insurance that was making my many trips to the hospital a financial possibility. I was blessed to have a job I could still do, teaching online, which I found healing and purposeful. And I reminded myself that an average day for a child in one of the hundreds of war zones in the world was worse than anything I was experiencing.

Still, everything is contextual. You can’t help but compare your present to your past, and my past had been been glorious. Hard charging, life loving, traveling the world, making speeches about technology and the future, enjoying life to the max. So, dying came hard. And out of nowhere. It seemed that one day I was fine and the next I couldn’t breathe.

I had avoided the urgency of my situation until one day, when I heard the garbage truck rumble up to our house. I panicked. I had just mowed the lawn and feared that I wouldn’t get the pile of lawn clippings I had amassed out to the curb in time. I hurriedly stuffed the grass into a trash bag, and sprinted out to the street. A few feet in front of the garbage truck, I passed out. When I awoke, I was sprawled out on the ground looking up at the truck driver. His face was filled with honest concern as he leaned over me, asking how he could help.

How stupid, to panic about one’s trash. Yet, these are things that are important when one is not fully conscious of one’s life.

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