Tag Archives: prayer

The graduation prayer….

So, the other day  I posted this story about my experience with bullying in high school and I mentioned that I gave a prayer at graduation. A prayer about hate. 

Well, holy prayer, I found it.

(Just know that it is not my best work). But I thought I would share it.

If you read the post on my experience, you might remember that I masked my message as a global message about war. Well, apparently, I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was. Twenty-five plus years later, it doesn’t seem so focused on global events but rather what was closer to my heart at the time.

Anywho, here it is…

Dear Lord

As we gather here together for the last time as the class of 1986, we thank you for our good times and our bad times – our joys and our sorrows.

We have grown tremendously since we first walked the halls as a freshman class. We have eagerly anticipated the day we could walk down the aisle and receive our high school diplomas. But now, many of us look to the future with a great deal of uncertainty.

We pray that you will guide us in the decisions we must make, the fears we will face, and the defeats we shall bear.

Help us put any bad memories of the past behind us and to be thankful for the joyful times we have spent together.

Teach us there is no going back. We must accept the past and fight for tomorrow.

Help us to remember that the enemies we meet in life, whether they be nations or individuals, are as frightened of conflicts as we are. Read more »

Thoughts for a New Year………

I am doing alright so far on my Thanksgiving resolution to not have an opinion about flippin’ everything. 

Okay, the reality of it is, I still very much have an opinion, but I am (doing a better job of) exercising constraint about when it is necessary to actually express it.

So, rather than being over-ambitious and trying to take on too many promises, I am going to offer a prayer that I hope to remember throughout the year.

I pray mostly for perspective, patience, peace, and a sense of humor.

Beyond that I pray that, as humans, we remember that this home of ours called earth is a gift and that we will learn to exist in it and not simply rule over it.

I hope to be more compassionate and generous, especially when it is hard.

I pray to care about myself enough to take care of myself.

I hope to make the most of my talents and share them graciously whenever possible.

I pray to forgive more and to need to be forgiven less.

I hope to celebrate the beauty in imperfection.

I want to do a better job of appreciating those who appreciate me and spend less energy on those who do not.

And I pray that I will continuously count my blessings and overcome my challenges and that I will do it with laughter, intelligence, and sincerity.

Lastly, I pray that those who are less fortunate or alone or scared will find comfort and it will be gladly given by those who have much to share.

Happy 2011.

the Silver Temple in Amritsar………

Nope, that is not a mistake – there is certainly a Golden Temple in Amritsar, India (it is the highest of all Sikh temples and you can read more about it here) – but there is also a Silver Temple in Amritsar. It is a Hindu temple modeled after the Golden Temple – and it looks a lot like the Golden Temple except it is (much) smaller and the lines are (much) shorter. The temple is also known as the Sri Durgiana Temple.

The Silver Temple got its name from the beautiful silver doors that adorn the entrance ways.

I was told this guy is the founder of the temple and he welcomes you outside the gate. Actually he is facing the entrance, so it would be more accurate to say he bids you farewell.

This bell is all full of awesomeness. Many temples have bells. I have been told they serve two purposes – one, to let God (or the gods) know you are there and two, to scare the evils away. Either works for me.

This is one of the prayer books.

There are statues of gods everywhere – by some accounts, Hinduism hails over 1 million gods – this one is Ganesha. He is known as the “remover of obstacles”. He watches over you when you try anything new. He is a good friend to have!

This one is Lord Hanuman – the monkey god and is seemingly the most popular of the Hindu gods.

This guy protects you when you travel. (I cannot remember his name, so if you know it, please share it.) So, we visited with him for a minute and took a picture with him just to make sure we had evidence that he knew we were there.

You can see performances in honor of the Goddess Durga while you are there. Apparently it is quite an honor to be selected for the performance – I think someone forgot to this little one that. 😉

According to Wikipedia, Durga “manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.” Yep, it would be (very) good to have her on your side.

A lot of people in India like to have their picture taken and then they like to see the image on the camera screen. This guy asked me to take his picture. So I did, then I showed it to him. He was very, very excited. So, he asked our tour guide to ask me to mail it to him. Sure, that’s easy enough. He wrote down his number with a big honkin’ smile on his face.

Then he figured if it worked once, maybe he could ask again. You can imagine that once was charming, twice was amusing, but we were quickly approaching “enough already”. I took the second picture and showed it to him and then we wanted to get on our way. But he must have been concerned that we weren’t taking him seriously because he asked us to stop and he pulled out a piece of paper – he wanted us to know for sure that he was legit – so he showed us his medical release papers – from the mental hospital. Fantastic.

I have not mailed the pictures yet – and it isn’t because I misplaced his address – I know right where it is – it’s somewhere in my house. And when I find it I will mail it. 😉

The Golden Temple Continued…………..

I don’t think I am overstating it when I say that Ann, Julia, and I were in awe of the Golden Temple. It is a peaceful place with such a spirit of community about it. None of us really knew too much about the Sikh faith and we walked away absolutely in love with its ideals.

The fact that they have such a commitment to reach out to those in need is amazing. Our guide told us that, beyond each gurudwara having a kitchen to feed those who are hungry,  the Golden Temple also sponsors between 200 and 300 young women each year for their weddings. They select girls who cannot afford dowries and the temple sponsors them. (And, yes, it would be great to get rid of the whole dowry system but it is a reality and every year hundreds of girls can get married who might not have without the temple’s help.)

Another lovely aspect of Sikhism is that they do not believe in the caste system – every one is equal. Someone told me once that every Sikh has Singh in their name and that Singh means lion. I was also told it means brother, signifying that they are all connected to each other. This concept was in practice at the Golden Temple. So many people come to volunteer their time and they all seemed pretty happy about it. (By the by, supposedly the women all have Kaur in their name which means princess. I could totally get used to that. Just call me Princess A Reason To Write.)

The Sikhs have some lovely cornerstone ideas for their faith. According to Wikipedia, there are 10 beliefs in Sikhism. They are:

1. Believe in one God.
2. Treat everyone equally.
3. Live by the 3 main tenets –
Practice constant meditation and prayer.
Make an honest income and do it honorably.
Share earnings and selflessly serve others.
4. Avoid the 5 sins of ego
Pride, Lust, Greed, Anger, and Attachment
5. Get baptized.
6. Keep the code of honor by abiding the gurus teachings.
7. Wear the 5 symbols of faith:
uncut hair, wooden comb, dagger, proper undergarments, silver bracelet.
8. Follow the 4 commandments:
Do not dishonor the creator’s intention by cutting the hair.
Do not harm the body with tobacco or other intoxicants.
Do not eat sacrificial meat.
Do not commit adultery.
9. Recite prayers daily
10. Take part in fellowship
Worship together and sing God’s praise.
Cook and eat together.
Serve each other.

Sometimes things just don’t make sense until you hear and see them first hand. I never really understood the whole growing the hair thing, honestly. But now I totally get it. If God meant for hair to grow – let it grow. It seems very symbolic of really turning things over to God. I am not going to stop shaving my legs but I totally get it!

And this is it – the Golden Temple. It is beautiful.  The founder of Sikhism was Guru Nanak whose father wanted to raise him according to strict Hindu beliefs.  However, Guru Nanak rejected the idea of the caste system and preached that all humans were equal. He believed that life was given as an opportunity to get closer to God and that all humans were afforded that same opportunity.

Sikhism is said the be the youngest of the world’s religions. It is only 500 years old. But the Sikhs have reportedly already grown into the world’s fifth largest religious group. The word Sikh means disciple. Guru comes from two words – Gu meaning darkness and Ru meaning light. So a guru helps fellow believers turn darkness into light. It is estimated that there are about 26 million Sikhs in the world.

Guru Nanak was the first Guru and 9 others followed behind him. The last human Guru was Gobind Singh and he named the holy scriptures as the 11th and final guru – the Adi Granth which then became known as the Guru Granth Sahib. There are over 50 places throughout the temple where passages from the holy book are continuously being read. We were told that priests can wait up to 20 years to have their turn at reading scripture at this Temple. We were also told that women can be priests and are able to take part in the readings. Equality reigns.

The temple is an active place of worship and people of all faiths are welcome there. We saw Muslims, Hindus, and even Christians in reverent prayer throughout the temple. We even bowed our own heads in silent meditation when we sat a top the Golden Temple and listened to the prayers. The atmosphere was remarkably reflective and we felt so much a part of the worship ceremony. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of any part inside the actual Golden Temple but it probably really is better if you just imagine a light breeze blowing thru a picture perfect sky, us on our knees with eyes closed with hands in our laps, our hearts beating slowly, prayers humming in the air, and everyone quiet together except for the very young child playing with the donations box. Normal Rockwell would have painted it for sure.

At first I felt a little uncomfortable taking the spot of someone who practiced Sikhism on the floor in front of the priest reading the scripture. But our guide reassured us over and over that people of all beliefs are welcome at the temple not only as visitors but as active participants. And I must say I felt very comfortable there.

I also noticed that many of the worshipers would touch the base of the doorway as they entered the Golden Temple complex and any of the smaller areas inside. So I did that too. I am not sure what it represents but it seemed very respectful and reverent. And people also fell to their knees when they entered the temple. You could tell some of them just could not believe they were actually finally there.

The day was truly magical. Our hearts opened to a faith we were not familiar with and stereotypes of brutes came crashing down. Beneath the warrior persona lives men who are compassionate about humanity and dedicated to their faith.

And, if you go to the Golden Temple during the day, make sure you go back at night. You will not regret it.

The Temples of Kathmandu – part 2…………

Yesterday, I wrote about the Pashupati Temple in Kathmandu. If you have nothing but time on your hands today, you can read that post here.

If you are new here, I’ll catch you up. Last weekend, my family went to visit Kathmandu in Nepal. We saw Mt. Everest from the comfort of an airplane seat and soaked in the markets. It was an amazing experience! Today, I am going to continue to share our trip with you and today’s post will be about more of the temples we saw.

I have gotten a lot of positive feedback (thanks guys) from my last few posts and what I really want to say is – if you can ever go to Kathmandu – go. Go. GO. Go! Kathmandu really surprised me. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. And it hit me right in the soul. I have really had a hard time explaining why. It is a magical place. Really and truly magical.

There was such beauty in the tangible manifestation of prayer – the fact that something lingers even after the prayer has been answered or denied. Stunning. It is also humbling to see just how many worries are out there in the world. We are certainly not alone in our request for help and guidance. We all need it sometimes. I wonder how many of the flags represent prayers that have long gone out of consideration. Worries that are no longer worrisome.

It helps to put our concerns into perspective about what to really focus on. I know that if I had to put a permanent mark on the world for all of the prayers I have offered, there would have been far fewer of them. That truly helps define what really deserves our energy. I felt so lucky to currently just have global prayers like health for the world and peace for the world and nothing really immediately personal. I always pray for people who are alone in the world and anyone who is struggling in any way – so I included them. But my own heartache is simply being away from home – that can absolutely feel overwhelming at times – but going to Nepal was perspective changing. The sadness of being away from family and dear friends is lessened ever-so-slightly (and effectively) by the experiences my immediate family is sharing together. We only wish our friends and family were here with us.

The second temple we visited was the Bouddhanath Stupa. It is a Buddhist Temple. And it was the first place I had ever seen prayer flags and the prayer wheels. If you want to get a 360 degree view of the stupa, click here.

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There does not seem to be a clear understanding of who built this stupa and several different versions of its beginnings are offered. They are all very different and not seemingly connected. So, I won’t try to turn this into a history lesson.

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The walkway around the stupa forms a circle. Number One Hubby and I agreed that the “town” surrounding the temple felt very European. Of course the walkway is lined with merchants selling trekking gear and souvenirs.

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There are four sets of eyes on the temple. One set facing each direction. It is my understanding that they represent the fact that we are always being watched over for protection and that they watch for assurances that we are doing our best. They are the eyes of wisdom and compassion. Kind of brings new meaning to the mother’s claim that she has eyes in the back of her head. 😎

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This prayer wheel stood from floor to ceiling. It was massive. And there was a bell on it that rang every time it made a complete rotation. It was humbling to stand before it. Really, what kind of prayer calls for a wheel this big? I cannot imagine how heavy a heart must be with angst to call upon this wheel.

Then we went to the Swayambhunath Temple. It is also known as the monkey temple. There are monkeys everywhere! Both Buddhists and Hindus worship here.

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This is the world peace pond that greets you when you enter the site.

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When you come from a country that is just over 200 years old, it is amazing to see structures that have
lasted through so many generations. This temple is believed to have been created in the 5th century.

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There are prayer flags strewn all throughout the temples in Kathmandu. They are magnificent.

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The Tibetan name for this temple means Sublime Trees because it sits on the mountain side and is surrounding by a great number of different trees. The tree below is my favorite – it is a broken tree in the middle of such splendor and still it stands out with its own beauty. Maybe there is hope for me yet. 😎

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This temple is believed to be the most sacred of Buddhist pilgrimage sites. There is a stupa on the site and various shrines and temples. A Tibetan monastery, museum, and a library are more recent additions to the compound. Much of the symbolism at the site comes from the Vajrayana tradition of Newar Buddhism, but Buddhists of all schools find the site important. Many Hindus also revere the complex as well and come here to worship.

Swayambhunath, is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. According to the Gopālarājavaṃśāvalī Swayambhunath was founded by the great-grandfather of King Mānadeva (464-505 CE), King Vṛsadeva, about the beginning of the 5th century CE. This seems to be confirmed by a damaged stone inscription found at the site, which indicates that King Mānadeva ordered work done in 640 CE.

The dome at the base represents the entire world. When a person awakes (represented by eyes of wisdom and compassion) from the bonds of the world, the person reaches the state a bit higher. The thirteen pinacles on the top of it symbolises that sensient beings have to go through the thirteen stages of enlightenment to reach Buddhahood.

On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes which represent Wisdom and Compassion. Above each pair of eyes is another eye, the third eye. Saying goes that when Buddha preaches, cosmic rays emanate from the third eye which acts as message to heavenly beings, so that those interested can come down to earth to listen to the Buddha. The hellish beings and beings below the human realm cannot come to earth to listen to the Buddha’s teaching, however, the cosmic ray relieves their suffering when Buddha preaches. (Thanks again Wikipedia)

Okay, this one is getting l.o.n.g. too. So, I’ll check out for now. I will just leave you with this view of Kathmandu from the temple.

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Call backs…………..

My youngest daughter crawled into bed with me last night. I snuggled next to her and brushed a few hairs away from her face. She looked so peaceful and I wondered if this was the day that our lives would change entirely. Forever.

I got  a call back on my mammogram. They wanted to see me again. Earlier this week, I went in for my yearly exam. I have been going since I was 35. A great grandmother, a great Aunt, and an Aunt with breast cancer will send you to the big squeeze a littler sooner than later. I have never been called back. I have always checked that box and moved quickly on. That was, until this week. Until the summer that I am moving across the globe away from my entire support network (only minus my husband and kids).

It seems there was some extra tissue showing up on my left breast. Not enough to increase my cup size – just enough for a follow-up squish. If they had said it was on my arse, I would have believed them immediately – but seriously, extra tissue there? Not exactly the phone call you want to get. Ever.

Of course, it was the scheduling receptionist who called me to let me know. She had no (helpful) answers. Just available time slots and locations. Next week. As in 6 days and a weekend later. As in no answers later.

Yeah, that is not going to work for me. Something about moving back out of the country soon (8,000 miles away) and hoping for answers sooner than later. Her final offer – call back tomorrow – maybe something will open up. Okay then. I will call back tomorrow.

Honestly, I almost forgot to call back. I was distracted with a day at the water park with my kids and our neighborhood swim team and my dad’s birthday and my aunt and my cousin visiting. Dinner out with my family. Fun. Full of life things. Luckily on Friday it all worked out and I got to go in (again) before the weekend.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep great last night – except for snuggling with an Angel – it was not that peaceful of a night. I try to be good and not worry about something until I know what to worry about – but it is hard impossible not to imagine the possibilities. I saw my daughter sleeping next to me and wondered what she was dreaming about – I wondered if I would see her high school graduation, her wedding. A little dramatic, sure. But a possibility. Ick. I also thought about not being sick. And prayed for strength whatever happened.

Anymammo, I was given an “overbook” appointment which meant there was a. very. very. good. chance. I would have to wait for a. very. long. time. It turned out that I didn’t have to wait that long. The technician was great. She informed me that I would absolutely talk to a doctor before I left. I would leave with answers. I still don’t know if that made me feel better or worse. I have done this too many times to know that needing to see the doctor is not a great sign. While she was doing my exam, I saw my original film up on the light board. With a big circle around it at the top of my boob. That made me feel worse. It wasn’t that they did not get a good image and just needed to redo it – there was really something there. Circled nonetheless. With my name on it.

And the picture confirmed that my boobs are sagging. Well at least my left boob is. Just as an aside – really – if you are little bitty – you should not also have to sag. I am just saying – really, it’s not that fair. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know, life ain’t fair.

When the technician was done, she told me again that I would see the doctor. Before I left. Today. I might also need a sonogram. I was torn between asking her a litany of questions and not wanting to know one more detail. Luckily for me, I have a couple of friends who have made it to the sonogram phase of a mammogram screening and still managed to walk out of the door minus a diagnosis of cancer. So, I did not completely panic. I was sent back to the waiting room. And waited.

And waited some more. With a lot of other women in gowns that opened in the front. I think we were all pretending and trying to be totally engrossed in our reading waiting material while our stomachs churned and our minds wandered and wondered.

I mean seriously, there is a room full of women – statistics are sure to say that at least some of us were in danger – who’s to say who it would be? We looked and did not look at each other and flipped empty pages.

Meanwhile, my husband called me with questions about what was happening at my appointment. When I did not have any answers yet, he moved on to questions about coming here to be with me and questions about school and questions about moving within India and questions about renting our house in America and holy crap – too many questions – I know he was nervous. Unfortunately, he was talking to the newly appointed President of the Nervous Club – the mammogram chapter. He was also probably trying to distract me. But distraction would not come easily today. They called my name and I hung up on him. Gotta go honey. Sometimes life needs to just happen one question at a time. Today I needed one question at a time.

The nurse walking me back simply said – you are getting a sonogram. You will see the radiologist. This way please. She did not look at me. That did not help.

I waited in the dark room by myself for about 10 minutes. And came up with a whole new set of possibilities. Some good. Some not so great. The radiologist walked in and introduced herself. She was lovely. Very soft spoken. Very gentle. Very aware that I had by passed nervous about 2 days ago and moved straight on to wondering what the possibilities really were.

She said something about not being worried. About me? Yes, about you. I started breathing again. Out loud. Deeply. In sync with myself. Finally. Whew.

Apparently, I had a spot on the original mammogram. (Oh yes, I might have seen something about that in the other room – you mean the one with the. big. circle. around. it – and MY. name. on. it? I was a little distracted by this machine squishing me and by me not sure I wanted to know all the scoop – can you fill me in on the details, please?) That’s what was in the circle. A suspicious spot. But that spot did not show up today. Something about compression. She did the sonogram just to be sure. I am now clear for another year.

I am not unaffected though. I am reminded that life can change in an instant. It can come and go so quickly. Without notice.

Last night I was careful not to pray for selfish things like health. I did not want to be unrealistic. A prayer would not change what might already be. So, I just asked for strength. Whatever happened. Strength. I found it, and was blessed with a side dish of health, and I am grateful for it. Every ounce of it.

More reason I miss Mr. W………….

6th grade math.
(Yes, this is a repeat, but not because I am lazy, but because it’s not getting any easier.)

Mr. W lets me sleep in.
(I had completely forgotten about this one – but it is a big one.)

Number One Hubby let me sleep in while he was home for Thanksgiving. And, while I slept all nestled in my bed, he and the kids decorated the house for Christmas and hug the stockings by the chimney with (out) care. He is good like that. That is why you might see mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe.

On the other mornings that he would let me sleep in, Mr. W would make the lunches for school, get the kids breakfast and then take them to the bus stop. Have you been to a bus stop in the morning lately? Baby, it’s cold outside. Today I learned that 2 degrees Celsius equals about 36 degrees Fahrenheit. (I also learned how to spell Celsius and Fahrenheit.)

Maybe I am not so big on spelling either.

Have a mentioned that I am not a morning person?

Our dishwasher has this unique (translation…..unnecessary) feature that allows you to actually turn it off. Not just have it not running – but truly turn it off – like a light. Mr. W feels that it saves on our electricity bill to turn off the power (what about the over 100 recessed lights you had installed, honey – oh, I forgot, that’s different -never mind). So, every time I filled the dishwasher (no, he didn’t do that – he didn’t want me to miss him too much) I would have to wait for the dishwasher to “initiate” before I could start it. It was annoying. Now, I miss that part of my day and I think of him every time I run the dishwasher.

I bought 2 white t-shirts and 1 off-white t-shirt yesterday. Mr. W would laugh at that. More white shirts? He would laugh. I miss sharing the tiny details of the day with him that never quite make it into our phone conversations.

He does know I bought Christmas dishes. He also knows I did not need Christmas dishes. But he does not care because he knows I really love Christmas dishes – even if we might not use them for the next two years. He is probably laughing at me for that too. Or maybe I should say laughing with me. 😉 (And, yes they are also white.)

My prayer list has gotten so long that it’s hard to remember it all. And now I find it necessary to pray every night.

Sleeping alone still stinks.
(Also a repeat – but a self-explanatory repeat, I believe.)

Now I lay me down to sleep….

Many nights, I will be honest, not every night, but many nights I say a prayer before I go to sleep. It’s always silently and it’s always while I am laying down with my eyes closed. And it usually while I am trying to get warm.

Somewhere along the way, I must have been taught that prayer time was really meant to be a time to be thankful.  I remember when I was younger (even up until high school, and probably even college), I would thank God for all the animals I ever owned. I could still recite you the list. I won’t bore you with it – but I could.

Even the goldfish that I won at the fair – who sadly did not live to see his first birthday – was included in that list for decades. You probably know that game that you play by tossing the ping pong ball into the field of glass bowls – if yours landed in a bowl with a fish – wah lah – you have a new pet. It is the stuff that Dr. Suess books are made of  – one fish, two fish. Anyway, I named mine Fred. And, I thanked God for him for many, many years.

Now, when I pray, I am not so worried about the pets. But I do pray for anyone traveling, anyone alone, anyone scared, anyone ill, and anyone who is not with us anymore. It is a weird combination of things. But it is my little mix of concerns for the world. A reminder to myself that I am not the only one with issues and that, really, my issues ain’t so bad.

This mantra of mine started when my husband started traveling more for work. I am not a big fan of flying (yeah – good thing I am moving to India) but I am even less of a fan of Number One Hubby flying. So when he started flying pretty frequently, I started praying more.

I am not Catholic – so I am not sure why I felt guilty about praying just for him – but it felt selfish. So, I started including anyone who was traveling – not just my hubby. Then my father-in-law got cancer and I started including anyone who was sick, not just my father-in-law. You can see my neurosis at work.

So, this Thanksgiving my night-time prayer will once again include many well wishes for those with concerns in this world and an extra thanks for all of my blessings.

Yesterday, my clever little Bear came home and showed me something he learned at school. He held up a glass with slurpee in it and said, “is this glass half-full or half-empty.” Bear, my dear, it is very much half-full – and it tastes yummy too – see how lucky I am.

I am off to count my blessings and to say a prayer that you have many blessings too. Happy Turkey Day – gobble gobble.