Asking for Directions: Part 1

ask what

When I was young I would pray for silly things: that I could stay up late to watch TV, that we would have pancakes for breakfast.

I also prayed a lot for boys—make him love me, make him not leave.

I prayed for world peace, because that’s what you did. And I prayed for my Grammy—she needed someone on her side.

I remember the last time I prayed. Closing my eyes and repeating the words over and over—please let him live, please let him live.

He did not. And I stopped.

Praying, that is. I stopped praying.
I assumed I wasn’t doing it right.
Or asked for the wrong things.

For a long time after, “life is random” suited me just fine—no requests needed. And while I would “keep you in my thoughts,” or “send you positive energy,” I got out of the habit of praying. It—along with forgiveness, contrition, gratitude—got tossed into the pile of “raised Catholic” and forgotten.

– – – – –
pray 1. to make earnest petition to. 2. to offer devout petition, praise, thanks, etc. to (God or an object of worship). 3. to make petition or entreaty for; crave. 4. to offer (a prayer). 5. to ask, make request of.
– – – – –

In April, a friend did an angel reading for me and noted “you have not reached out for spiritual support.”

In June, a woman in my Sharing Circle echoed—“just ask for guidance, they’re waiting for you to ask.”

“Ask how?” I wanted to know. Surely not in the Please-God-Give-Me-Amen way I grew up with.

And ask what? If I don’t know what I want, how can I ask for it?

But, I’ve been practicing asking—albeit in a fairly non-committal way. Picture Nathalie Wood’s half-hearted “I do believe. I do believe.” in Miracle on 34th Street.

Where do you want me to go?
What do you want me to do next?

On a walk last week, I asked for guidance and got “let go of the fear.”

In a dream, I walked silently inside a Buddhist temple I visited two years ago.

“What is holding you back? What are you afraid of?” a psychic noted last week.

“Sit in silence,” something keeps nagging me, dropping words along my path: ritual, meditate, altar, mindfulness.

Stop being afraid and shut up.

This is my response.

Stop being afraid and shut up.

• • •

Photo by Jen Payne, taken at the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York.

7 thoughts on “Asking for Directions: Part 1

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  1. When I was depressed I lived in fear 24/7. The butterflies of fear were always in my belly! (solar plexus chakra). I was afraid of the past and the things I had said and done. I was afraid of the future because I am not financially sound and the economy looks bad. I was afraid of every single word I uttered or sent in an e-mail or commented on facebook. Finally I got tired of living in fear and decided to get well, to heal myself of depression and the obsessions and anxiety in which I was NOT of the present moment. I was living in my own little world and I omitted my immediate family from it. Why did it happen? I don’t know.. it was a LIFE LESSON. I was finally ready to be the real me who god meant me to be. I had to learn to meditate and live in the PRESENT MOMENT. I did deep yoga breathing meditations to calm my anxieties. I did healing LIGHT MEDITATIONS where I visualized the WHITE LIGHT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT clearing all the negative energies from my body and chakras. I learned to ask the Archangels and my Guardian Angels for help more often. Asking them for help is not worshiping them by the way. (Does that make me crazy?) But it does give me peace when I am anxious. I do still feel fear of the future so I do need maintenance meditations to be balanced.

  2. I once had a teacher who told me, “Let go…. you already know.” I was so angry with her for saying that. I just wanted to know what path to take. She said, “It’s already in front of you. Sweep away the leaves.”

    Now I do know with a certainty. My path isn’t straight. It spirals, it crosses over itself, it’s steep and rocky, it has deep downward turns. It has smooth awe inspiring moments. I don’t always like it, but I’ve learned that I already know it is my path and whatever comes next is my step.

    Great picture of the Buddha, Jen. The lighting is perfect!

    1. Yes! Yes! Like – get out of your own way!

      I think I’d be too bored if the path was straight…love the idea of your spiral, criss-crosses, turns and “inspiring moment.”

  3. same here – years ago i was seeing a therapist who was also in my circle of friends – she surprised me one time by telling me she had actually learned something from me, the client:
    that i did not walk my path in a straight line, going from point A to point B, but by taking the little side roads to get where i was going

    the trick is not to stop at every little “scenic overlook” there is – i think meandering is a good way to learn but don’t forget that you are trying to get somewhere – it’s very difficult to give ourselves permission to ask for anything, much less something as important as figuring out life lessons – i’ve been reading some pretty powerful stories lately about people recovering from life-threatening illness who discovered that they needed to accept themselves not only for who they are but who they wanted/needed to be – the stress of this struggle for self-awareness follows us throughout our lifetime, often (hopefully) followed by self-forgiveness and self-acceptance…

    pretty hefty helping on our plates, for sure, but since we do occupy the higher rungs of sentience on the ladder of evolution (or whatever you want to call it) why not delve into these esoteric adventures? why not put our heads and hearts and souls into it? what better pursuits are there, really, than discovering our inner selves? do we try to figure ourselves out through petty things like shopping, or more primitive necessities like eating or mating? those are only temporarily satisfying, at best, and sometimes they are disappointing – it is by seeking the unknown, perhaps the divine, that we hope to eventually find peace and even happiness – i think we only get a small taste of it during this lifetime, but i’ll take it over years of frustration, desperation and confusion

    “Eliminate desire and hold onto emptiness and you will come to see the truth.” the Buddha

    it ain’t easy being human!! thanks for touching on this topic, jen – this learning curve also applies to me!

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