I tend to be very pragmatic. It’s not that I don’t have room for the supernatural: It’s just that it has, in my experience, often been used as an excuse by people who don’t really want to actually take tangible action.
Many is the time when I have been faced with needs that surpassed my abilities and have asked for real, tangible help – Help me get this person fed. Help me pay this person’s light bill. Help me get this person a job. Help me get this person some clothes. – and I have been assured of their prayers.
They often reply to my Facebook request with a hasty “Praying!”, apparently in such a rush to get on their knees and beseech the Almighty on our behalf that they can’t use sentences. The fervent prayers of the righteous may avail much, but in my experience, landlords require negotiable tender.
My friend Kathy once wrote a fundraising letter, and when someone replied that they were praying for her organization to have the resources they need, she replied back that their prayer team was full, and they really just needed somebody to write checks.
That said, I have had experiences I cannot explain pragmatically. As my buddy Brian said, I hate it when my experience of God contradicts my theology. So, I try to be open minded, especially as I strive hard to not yuck somebody else’s yum, and I never want to take away something that brings somebody comfort.
This has led me to interesting places over the years. Meditation retreats. Sweat lodges. Pentecostal worship services. Folk slain in the Spirit. Other folk speaking in tongues. Prayer walks. Beads. Dream catchers. Familiars. Teas and tinctures. Spells. Healing services. Oil anointing. Tibetan singing bowls. Sitting with the dead.
All of which is a preamble to my friend Amy, who several weeks back mentioned she was starting up a book group around The Artist’s Way, and did I want to be part of it.
Which is how I have ended up writing three pages longhand every morning for the last two weeks as I lean into the program, which involves, among other things, writing three pages longhand every morning, in a ritual they call Morning Pages.
Now, I will confess, it seemed somewhat silly to me, but I am doing it. And because I have learned that rituals are important, and the more I take a ritual seriously, the more value I will get from it, I have tried to ritualize it as much as possible.
The same time, every morning. The same notebook, that I don’t use for anything else. I bought a special pen that I use for writing these pages, and I always start them the same way. In short, I am taking it seriously.
Now, I don’t know if this will “work”. In fact, I am unsure how I would know if it did work, or define what I expect it to do. But I can tell you that somewhere after day 7, it ceased to be a chore, and now I actually look forward to it. And the other day, I kept going after my three pages were done, because I had more stuff still waiting to come out. And Friday morning I had an idea for a book come to me while I was doing it, for which I have since done a rough outline.
And I’m just getting started – I committed to another 13 weeks of this. And while I can’t make a pragmatic case for it, I guess it doesn’t hurt to be open to the woo-woo, either.