Full disclosure: I pray every night. On my knees, eyes closed, hands folded, the whole shebang. (I pray to the Great Spirit, or the Loving Spirit of the Universe, because that is God, but I have some issues with the word and concept of "God" as an old man in the sky, and as defined by-- and fought for by --many religions. I'm happy to talk more my beliefs, but later, okay).
For now, what I want to share is this, with full credit due to Annie Lamott:
HELP PLEASE, THANKS A TON, and: JUST -- WOW.
Backing up. For decades, I would only pray "THANKS" prayers. Prayers of gratitude, because I thought really, that's all that was necessary for my spiritual life. Focus on the gratitude.
Then came "HELP," about seven years ago. Not direct help for myself; but mainly because I wanted to be true to my word when I said I'd hold someone in the light. So I added "HELP" prayers. These are generally for others who I've seen or know about. I send love and visualize them surrounded by golden light. And what do you know? Later, I learned that the incomparable writer Annie Lamott talked about those kinds of prayers as the two main kinds. And I was like, "Yes, sister! 'Thanks' and 'help'! AMEN!"
Then I caught a whiff of her new title: Help, Thanks, Wow. And I was like, "Hmm." (Things that make you go, "hmm...")
So last month, I added "WOW" to my prayers. This means something that gave me a sense of awe or wonder that day. Nine times out of 10 (actually, more like 99 out of 100), my "Wow" is something from the natural world. The color of autumn leaves. The spots on a frog's back. The cotton-candy-colored sunset. The discovery of a new aspect of quantum mechanics.
Friends, "Wow" has been a transformative addition to my prayers. Because (1) it reminds me to get my ass outside, in (or adjacent to) nature, on the daily. (2) It blends the mystical and the scientific in a way that tingles all my bells, and (3) it puts all my human-level issues in immediate perspective.
So, thanks, Annie, and thanks, Great Spirit/LSotU.
And just... WOW.
j.j. johnson, author