Guide us in the Right Path
Rain on the tin porch roof of a dark September morning is a signal to sleep in. At our house that means about 6:30, so I was half awake when the phone rang anyway, and I blamed it on our friend John who usually calls early. I elbowed my husband and made him answer it. Then I remembered-- I was Skyping with a college class in Tennessee this morning. It was at 9:30 though. My time. Oh God, that would be ... 6:30! My husband handed me the phone. They were having some technical issues and apologized for running late. "Could we start in five minutes?" "No problem," I said brightly. Then I staggered up, put on a nice shirt over my pajama bottoms, combed my hair, and yelled, "Make some coffee, quick" to my husband, and tried to look casual as I sat down in front of the screen at my desk. It all worked out fine. (It always does.) When one student asked if my writing had changed since my accident (they had just finished the first book, If You Lived Here), I said yes. I understand what Annie LaMott meant when she wrote that she treats everyone as if we are all in the family lounge at the emergency room. My accident, getting hit by a truck, was so public that I had such great support. Most people's pain is not visible. A blood disease, a child with depression issues, a company going broke. A weak heart. A lonely marriage. I told those students to treat everyone they meet as if they are terminally ill and their words or actions are the last chance they have to communicate with them. Also, don't fret over folks who don't like you-- concentrate instead on the ones you love who love you back. It may sound like a Hallmark card, but it's true--the best moments are those shared with friends and family. Always. Of course that was before coffee, before my east coast social regulator weighed in. I wish I could do that all the time, but I often fall short. Living in Haines can sometimes be, as my friend Teresa says, like spiritual boot camp. We have to practice kindness actively when sometimes we don't feel so generous, you know? Since I didn't get a chance to write Sunday's Thought the last two weeks while I was hunting, here's a good prayer that may help with this: "Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds, the merciful, the compassionate, the ruler of Judgment Day. Thee we serve and Thee we ask for aid. Guide us in the right path, the path of those who are gracious: not of those with whom Thou art angry, not of those who err." I like it because 'guide us in the right path' seems like a fair request to make of a busy God preoccupied with greater things than my little woes. I also like knowing that millions of people fall on their knees five times a day and say this out loud, which may mean it is heard over the general din. It is from the Koran, and is the prayer Muslims say when they are called to prayer.