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Walking out of the grocery store one day, a lady in front of me decided to take her bags out of her cart and head to the parking lot, leaving her cart right in between the two sets of doors where everyone else was trying to exit.  “You’re just going to leave your cart here?  Right in the exit in everybody’s way?”  I asked pointedly.  She looked at me, rolled her eyes and reluctantly pushed the cart outside.

Sometimes people are being obnoxious but don’t seem to care:  the ones using those walkie-talkie style push-to-talk phones, so that you hear both sides of the conversation at full volume; pet-owners walking their dogs without any form of a bag in their hands to clean up; the neighbors’ friends who pull up to their house and honk the horn ten times instead of getting out to ring the doorbell.

So, how do you live by the Golden Rule when nobody else seems to be doing it?  It occurred to me that sometimes, living here in New Jersey where these encounters happen often, I almost wish I could be like that – self-absorbed and inconsiderate, not concerned with how my actions affect others.  I almost wish I didn’t have this confounded moral code so I could find “creative” ways to get what I want out of life.  I almost wish I hadn’t heard the call those years ago so that I wouldn’t be accountable if I tried to do the wrong thing at someone else’s expense.

Almost.  But then I remember something.

There’s no shortcut to the things that matter:  character, peace of mind, representing my faith and my family in the world.  It may not be second-nature for everyone you meet, but as for me and my house, it’s still standard operating procedure.  The Golden Rule is more than just wishful thinking.  It might end up being unilateral some days, but in my book, it’s still a Universal Law.

I  used to think that I didn’t have a prayer life to speak of.  Did it really count if my prayers were more like Tweets?

God, please help Earl get through his surgery ok.

Lord, keep those firemen safe as they rescue whoever.

Father, thank you for the beautiful river.

I wanted a “real” prayer life, so I carved out uninterrupted prayer time, fifteen to twenty minutes minimum.  I learned to lift up my heart and to listen.  Sometimes I walked the local labyrinth.  Other times I sat on my sofa with my prayer beads (apparently I need some kind of movement to focus).

The great thing about these longer prayer times is that I was able to listen.  And, when I listen, I get answers.

But one thing still bothered me.  When someone has a problem, I offer to pray for them.  So far so good.  But if I don’t have that uninterrupted time until two or three days later, sometimes I remember my prayer promise, but other times I don’t.

Unfortunately, the best way to solve this problem seems to be to pray now which takes me back to the short prayers.  Back to Tweeting God.  Possibly in public.


I hate praying out loud in front of other people.  I’d rather sing a solo in church.  And I mean when there are other people there.  If you think I really want to do that, please recall – to get me up in front of the church with the entire choir, the choir director had to promise me a personalized trash can, just in case.  I may not be a shrinking violet, but in some things I find comfort in anonymity.  Praying out loud with even an audience of one is not anonymous.

Still, I’m pretty sure this is the next step I need to take in terms of prayer and spiritual growth.  Why?  Because I brought it up at the labyrinth on Monday and this is what kept popping into my head.

What was that sound?  Just me heaving a huge martyr-like sigh.  Praying and listening has its downfalls – the answers are seldom easy and often make me squirm.  And, here is where our readers come in.

I would really appreciate it if you would all hold me up in your prayers.  Quick and short prayers.  Great big long prayers.  I’ll accept one and all.  Wherever you are in your prayer practice is fine as long as it works for you.  Me?  I just need a little help moving into someplace new.


1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

In Mumbai, parents pray for boys to carry on the family name and to have someone to help with the cost of living, so when girls are born, they are often abandoned.  Those who are kept face a lifetime of challenges and indifference; in fact, many parents give female children a terrible name:  “Unwanted.”  So many parents in Mumbai have named their girls “Unwanted” that there was a ceremony last week by a group hoping to help these girls re-claim their self-esteem.

In a life-changing “Re-Naming Ceremony,” the girls nobody wanted were allowed to give themselves a new name.  Some chose names that meant “Prosperous,” or “Beautiful.”  One chose a name that translates as “Rock Hard.”

Imagine naming a precious child something so callous. “Unwanted.”  It struck me that the girl who re-named herself “Rock Hard” must have had to develop a shell to deal with the rejection of her parents and of her own name.

Then I remembered I had gone to school with a girl named “Folly.” At the time I thought, “What a pretty name.”  Only as I got older did I realize that “folly” meant “mistake.”  Never once do I recall seeing that girl smile.

What if we all re-name ourselves today?  Beloved of God.  Created on purpose.  A soul at rest in God’s grace.  Let the world call you what it will, but if God calls you blessed, that’s all that really matters.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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