A Prayer Book

sunriseLast night, we went to dinner at a new Italian restaurant with our friends, Ron and Kerry.  It was a noisy little bistro in downtown Brea but we were fortunate enough to get a corner table where the noise was muted enough for us to talk.  And talk we did.  The conversation was continual and frequently hilarious, complemented by a waiter who knew how to mix good service and sociable banter.   The food was good but not excellent but it didn’t really matter.   We had a great time.   Unfortunately, my choice of entrees didn’t agree with me … I was sick during the night and began today queasy.   Some toast and some Lipton tea seem to have me on the mend, but I didn’t feel up to any heavy spiritual posting.  I thought I would post on one of the dozens of spiritual books lying around my office and set out to look for one in particular, Dan Millman’s Laws of Spirit.  It was in none of its designated places, which only made me more determined to find it.  I didn’t.   But as often happens, I found another old … and neglected … friend, Marianne Williamson’s, Illuminata – A Return to Prayer.

I first encountered Marianne Williamson when I found A Return to Love on Borders bookshelves years ago.  Although the book is subtitled Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles, what made the book meaningful to me was Williamson’s description of how she applied those principles in her own life.  I would later buy A Course in Miracles, only to find its psychologically-based scriptures impenetrable, but I still occasionally reread parts of Return to Love.  The book provided one of the best known inspirational quotes in New Age spirituality:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I am not the sort of person that buys prayer books.   Perhaps it is ego and perhaps it is a desire to have a more personal contact with God, but I normally josephlike to make up my own prayers.  But I was drawn by the author and the stunning cover, a detail from the George de la Tour painting, Joseph the Carpenter.  And once the book was in my hands, I found a compendium of non-denominational prayers for all occasions written by Williamson.  Chapters include prayers for the soul, for the body, for relationships and for creativity.  The text of the book, heavy on Williamson’s belief that a spiritual renaissance was sweeping the world comes across as heavy-handed twenty years later, but the prayers have undeniable power.  At critical times in my life, I’ve used them to supplement my homemade prayers.   A good example is the prayer that begins the chapter on Age:

Dear God,
I am getting older.
It fills me with fear.
I live in a world with no respect for aging.
Show me how to see it differently.
That I might feel its strength and power within me:
Its power for good, its power for wisdom, its power for knowledge, its power for leadership.
May I become wise.
I receive into my heart the sacred elders.
May their experience and greater awareness make them my teachers and my guides.
I realize it is a sacred privilege to care for them,
As they in their time have cared for me.
Please transform my experience of age.
Show me its possibilities for greatness.
Show me its beauty.
Release me from my fear.

Amen.  You can find Illuminata on Amazon for next to nothing.  Such a deal.

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One Comment on “A Prayer Book”

  1. cherperz Says:

    That is a lovely prayer. I, also, never tend to buy books about prayer and seldom buy books about spirituality. Not that I am not interested but often these books make me feel more .like I “am missing something” that should be apparent. That of course, makes me even more troubled that I don’t have the 100 percent kind of non-questioning faith that others seem to have.

    A lot of my prayers ask for guidance and understanding.

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