the Spirituality and Practice website's course on Interspiritual Meditation was about an aspect of gratitude I hadn't previously considered: Prayer and Opening to Help. Here's what they had to say:
"With the sense of trust and commitment established in yesterday's contemplations, we open ourselves to the source of our gratitude for help and support. This is either done through a simple act of will, or by expressing a particular need or desire, perhaps even planting it like a seed in the womb of a compassionate source in the universe. This latter expression is what we usually think of as prayer. Of course, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of this kind of "petitionary" prayer. So it need not be directed at an external being with expectation that they might grant our wish.
Whether our prayers are directed to a divine source — within or without — to the universe, or to the deepest potential within us, we are expressing a deep wish that is far more profound than the mundane desires that generally run through our minds. Prayer activates support and the power of our spiritual capacity to actualize our most profound and benevolent aspirations for ourselves and others."
I love the idea of "planting it like a seed in the womb of a compassionate source in the universe." And it particularly resonates with me when I see it in the context of this image and my life. This image, which is just a pattern of rivulets in the sand of a beach in Oregon, has always looked like gratitude to me. And my life -- well, I have a daughter who is driving across country this week, and she called a few minutes ago to ask for advice because her windshield wipers keep icing up, which makes it hard to see.
No mom really wants to hear that her daughter is driving in 20 degree weather with a fine mist falling that's icing up her wipers. But of course she tells me the roads are fine and I shouldn't worry. Can I just say how grateful I am for my belief that there is "a compassionate source in the universe," and that fervent prayers for her safety are really the only good way to channel the anxiety I feel?
I just have to trust -- there's nothing I can do (though I did tell her to stop at a gas station and pick up some spray de-icer). And that can be so difficult... So I'm taking deep breaths, remembering gratitude, visualizing her safety, and planting my "most profound and benevolent aspirations" for her future and safety in that divine womb. And breathing.
It's important to keep breathing. And doesn't it look like that's what the figure in this image is doing? It looks like she's breathing light into the world. I think that's what breathing in faith does, as well.
So keep breathing...