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clock

 

“We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.”
― Abraham Lincoln

When I moved into my humble home some twenty years ago, the previous owners had cleared out all of their belongings except for a clock over the refrigerator. It doesn’t keep time properly and I wanted to get rid of it, but the cord had been built into the trim in the kitchen. So if I want to get rid of the clock, I’d have to take apart the kitchen molding. I kept thinking I’d eventually take care of it when we renovated the kitchen, but that didn’t happen. Meanwhile, that clock has been running all these years, showing the wrong time.

Sometimes I’d look at that clock and it would loom large over my head, even though it’s a small object. It would bother me that I couldn’t get rid of the darn thing. That would lead me to worry about all the other little annoying things in need of repair around the house. Before I knew it, I’d spent hours thinking of things I couldn’t resolve and it had left me in an agitated state. Certainly not in a place of peace.

So often, we wear ourselves out working on things that don’t serve us. The way I see it, anxiety is a full-time job for most of us. It’s like running in place. We expend a lot of energy and end up getting nowhere.

In a previous post, I wrote about a spiritual writer named Bhagavan Das, who said, “Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.”

In a spiritual sense, prayer is a panacea. It covers everything and opens the door to God’s grace when a situation has been concerning you.

But on a practical level, I believe that prayer is a team effort. A two-part process.  We ask, then we act. If there’s a goal that’s important to us, we know God gave us two feet for a reason: to walk toward it, and to the best of our ability, to get it done.

Maybe it’s actually three parts, now that I think about it. The last part is the hardest. It’s… letting go.

Once we’ve prayed about a problem and done everything we can to make it better, that’s when it’s time to release it into God’s hands. Ask for what you want. Act to make it happen. The only thing left to do is to release it and send it on its way with a hearty, heartfelt: Amen.

People say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but at the bookstore, I find myself only picking up hardcovers that catch my eye – whether with a bold design or a picture of a fascinating figure from history.  It’s rare that I’ll gravitate toward a book without an interesting graphic on it.

So, yeh, I’ll admit it.  I do size up people based on how they look.  But I’ve always told myself that I do it “without judgment.”  That I’m just analyzing data based on years of experience with all types of people and that I always treat everyone exactly the same way.  With respect.

Imagine my surprise to find out I regularly categorize people based on preconceived ideas, even stereotypes!  Shocking.  I guess I must have known that I do this, but thought it was not intended in a malicious way, so it was no big deal.

Watching a documentary about spiritual journeys, I heard my eyebrows raising as a white man with a long grey beard and a name his mama surely didn’t give him (Bagavon Something or Other) came onto the screen.  I felt my cheek starting to curl into a smirk.  Down in my throat, I sensed the words, “are you for real?” forming.

And then it happened.  Bagwan Thisorthat said something I never expected.

The truth.

He gave me something I didn’t see coming.

A way to articulate deep wisdom in very simple words.

Pause for effect….

He said,

“Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.”

Sheesh.  Got me good with that one, God.

Out of respect for the gift he gave me, I googled the actual name of this fellow traveler on the road of life and it is:  Bhagavan Das.  Apparently he’s a Buddhist yogi who is popular in some spiritual circles. I do admit that I stifled a chuckle when I learned his real name was Kermit Michael Riggs and that he was born in Laguna Beach, California (Om, dude!).  But I’ll give him his props for teaching me a couple of things.  You never know who God will speak through, and you can judge a book by the cover, but you may miss a good story.  At least open the book to see what’s inside.

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