Superhero

You know how you look back at some things and cringe about the way you behaved at that point?  (Maybe you don’t but I have more than a few examples of cringe worthy behavior.)  I’ve accepted that to get me where I am today, I needed to have each and every experience I’ve had.  Every embarrassing experience, every nervous moment, every break up, every friendship, every job played a vital role in getting me here today.  One little thing changes and the whole thing is different. 

 Take a minute to think of your most embarrassing moment. (If you are me right now, you’re thinking, “which one?”)  It’s really bad, huh? What did you learn from it? 

 Now think of your biggest heart break.  I know, it makes your stomach hurt.  Take a moment, I’ll wait.  What did you learn from that?

 Now think about interviewing for jobs in college.  Oh sorry, is that up there with your embarrassing moments? 

 Think about the first day of high school.  The seniors sat on the steps and made fun of the freshmen.  We were all dressed alike and hovered so close to each other we couldn’t move.  We felt gangly and awkward. (Just for reference here, Cindy Crawford was a senior in my high school when I was a freshman so you think you felt gangly and awkward?)

 Think of what your hair looked like in the 80’s. 

 Think about speech class. 

 Think about when your best friend decided she hated you.  Or maybe everyone just started ignoring you for no reason.

 Think about your first job.  Think about the first day. 

 There are many other examples of growing experiences that I could insert here but frankly, I’m starting to feel ill.  Funny how the same “butterly in the stomach” feelings can resurface 20 years later, huh?

 Sort of makes you realize what your (older and wiser) parents were talking about when they said, “That which doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” 

 Don’t you feel like a Superhero at this point?

Can I get an “Amen!”?

After college, I took a class at DePaul.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do (Or be) so I was trying different things out.  Anyway, the class I took was Comparative Religion.  I loved this class.  I really embraced learning about different religions.  The thing I learned beyond a doubt is that our commonalities are much greater than our differences.    

There is a great quote by Martin Buber that says, “God made so many different kinds of people, why would God allow only one way to worship?”

Makes you think, huh? 

I have been blessed to know many children who have learning differences.  They are intelligent and thoughtful and curious.  They don’t always respond to the traditional way of teaching.  They “get” things in a different way.  Knowing these kids has opened my eyes to many things.  I don’t assume there is one way of learning or teaching or seeing the world.  Some of us are tactile learners while others are visual learners or auditory learners.  Some people learn through music or dance.  There is no “right” way to learn.  Often, the kids who learn differently become the best teachers to all of us.  We learn that when we demand everyone be the same, we encourage mediocrity.  We stifle artistic expression and often, we can damage self esteem and make kids feel that they are “less than”.  Talk about a tragedy. 

It makes me think of organized religion and rote memorization of prayers and scripture.  Just like there are many different learning styles, there are many different “worship styles”.  I have friends who gain great comfort from praying the rosary.  Some people worship by singing or playing an instrument.  I have other friends who attend Eucharistic Adoration.  Some listen to contemporary worship music or Christian radio.  Other people, whom I love and adore, haven’t stepped foot inside a church for years. 

I’ve been known to say, “Amen” in casual conversation when I agree with someone.  I like to think I’m the kind of person who can sing with the choir at any church…clap hands and wave arms with the best of them!  When we say “Amen!” we say “yes!” 

Many people haven’t found what feels comfortable to them yet with regards to their faith – they are still searching and the options are endless.  Each time I hear of a new way someone is praying or finding God in their lives, I am so grateful and happy for them.  We are searching for Him, Yes, but remember, he is also trying to find ways to reach us.  Just like the other good teachers we know, God will never give up on us.  He won’t say, “Well, you are not worshipping like your neighbor, you don’t make the cut.” I picture it more like, “Wow, she’s really not responding to that, let me try something else.”

Let’s stop judging each other on the way we learn and the way we worship.  Instead, let’s find ways to share our knowledge and our wisdom so everyone can grow.  If one way doesn’t work, let’s try another way…we are not all the same.  That’s what makes us so interesting. 

Can I get an “Amen!”?

Prayer

Ah, prayer… my friend has a sign by her bed that says, “Pray every day”.  I saw it and I said, “Oh, I love that, how nice” and she said, “yeah, if only I could do it!”  Isn’t that the truth? We all have good intentions.  We all know we should pray, we have been told that praying will bring us closer to God.  Why don’t we do it?

Along these same lines, I have found yoga and it has changed me.  For years, I could not be bothered to do yoga because I needed to run for at least 30 minutes and lift weights and sweat a lot or else it wasn’t a work out.  I could not be bothered with learning to breathe and have proper alignment and find stillness and learn life skills.  I had to rush around like a maniac sweating and punishing myself to fit in my jeans.  Try telling me otherwise and I would think you just had too much time on your hands. 

But as I got older and realized I wanted stillness and peace and I wanted to be centered…I pursued yoga.  Okay, let’s be honest, I pursued it because I heard it gives you great abs and makes you look taller!  Anyway, I got there and I was hooked.  Over the years, it has become so much a part of me, when I don’t do it, I don’t feel right.  Yes, there are physical benefits but it is the interior benefits that keep me going back for more. 

So, here’s the thing…I thought I didn’t need it.  I thought it was good for other people.  I thought I was fine running around like the energizer bunny.  I was surprised and awed by the transformation that took place when I started doing yoga.  It’s a subtle shift in awareness that eventually changes you completely. 

Back to prayer…Do you think you don’t need it?  Do you think it’s for people who have too much time on their hands?  Do you believe it can transform you? 

What does prayer mean to you?  How do you begin?

“To pray means to open your hands before God.  It means slowly relaxing the tension which squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend but as a gift to receive.” 

                                                      –Henri Nouwen from With Open Hands

I love that.  Look…those words I love…open, relaxing, accepting, receive.  Doesn’t that sound nice?  I love the image of being ready to receive a gift.  It makes me hopeful, excited.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  Won’t it be fun to find out?