First weekend of February, I took a look at the pile of envelopes on the hall table – the ones with little windows – and came to the conclusion that I was in dire straits as regards my personal finances. Rent had taken the lion’s share of my paycheck, which was smaller than usual, leaving fuck all for food, gas and sundry tobacco products. And there were bills yet due.
On Monday, I got an advance on my next check, which allowed me to get the little red truck inspected* and pay the most immediate bills. That was really just kicking the can two weeks out, since I was borrowing from myself. With no other recourse, I prayed about it.
I pray twice daily, morning and night. Sometimes, I throw in an extra if there’s reason. It’s a habit I deliberately developed and now seems natural and necessary. Not praying before leaving the house in the morning would be weirder than going out with no pants.
My prayer regarding my financial situation was a general expression of concern – I have no money and I need some – and a request – Please, help me see a way to get the money I need. I didn’t specifically state that I was looking for a legal way to get the money because I figured that was implied. I finished in the usual manner – Thy will be done – and went to sleep. And I mean I went to sleep. I did not toss and turn all night fretting uselessly about how broke I was or scheming illegal ways to get money. I let the whole thing go and slept like a baby.
Tuesday presented no immediate windfall, so I repeated the prayer and again, slept peacefully, without worry. This continued all week. There was one day in there – I went in to work and somebody told me that a key had broken off in one of the locks. We have freezers outside which we secure with padlocks. The bread freezer was inaccessible and bread was wonted. I got the angle grinder and cut the lock off. As I was cutting, I thought “Wow, breaking and entering would be easy with this tool”, but felt no need to pursue that line of thought. So the week went. Each day, I went to work, kept my eyes open and turned the whole issue over to my Divinity of choice at the end of the day.
I was happy, but not surprised, when I got a call from my father on Friday about work. He had been waiting for a call and that call came and another besides. We have a couple weeks worth of work, which is exactly the money I was needing. And the weather changed, making outside work really fucking nice. I do so enjoy working outside when the weather is warm and sunny, but not hellishly hot, even if it does mean listening to the wackjob conservative talk radio bullshit my dad listens to.
So, the financial situation is all but resolved. And this little tale is a fine example of the usefulness and value of prayer. I am not claiming that my Higher Power sent a band of angels to appear in dreams to homeowners and tell them to get their houses painted, to hire my dad to do the job, and then tweaked the global weather patterns so we’d have a few really nice days to scrape and paint gutters, though I do believe the Author of Creation is capable of doing those things. I am stating, with all sincerity, conviction and full awareness of how uncool it is, that my prayers allowed me to enjoy peace of mind during the days when I was waiting for some solution to my problem, a solution I knew would come in its own time. I live in accord with dharma/tao/God’s will to the best of my ability. I am certain that when one lives in such a manner, when one aligns oneself with the Cosmic Flow, one gains access to courses of development outside of oneself that guarantee the basic needs and the resources to carry on with the works of the Divine, and one is able to rest in the assurance that everything is going to be fine. This is a very different attitude than what I had before I undertook my spiritual path. Back then, I was a fucked up atheist, strung out, insane, depressed, stressed and generally not right. I struggled from one crisis to the next, mentally disturbed and incapable of doing fuck all to improve my situation. I did not transform instantly into the mostly serene and confident person I now am the instant that I first uttered a prayer. It took years of practice and right living. But the change did take place.
Skeptics will say that the work would’ve come whether I prayed or not and that is certainly true. I’m not saying my prayers changed reality. I’m saying my prayers changed my own experience of reality. And I’m saying it because The Big Drum In The Sky Religion is evangelical. I am proclaiming the good news that prayer works, that the disturbed mind can be comforted , that the mentally and/or spiritually afflicted can be healed. (Medication certainly helps in some cases.) The possibility that the result I achieved was a product of self-induced mental conditioning, requiring no action on the part of any Celestial Entity is one that I am cognizant of and has no relevance whatsoever. The act of continued, repeated prayer yielded a result. Belief in a Deity is not required.
So, prayer works.
*Virginia requires all vehicles to be inspected annually. You get a sticker on your windshield that says “1/15”, for example, which means your inspection is good and you don’t have to think about it until the first month of ’15, at which point you’re supposed to get your vehicle inspected again. I always take my vehicle in for inspection on the first day of the next month, so this year I waited until 1 February, which means my inspection sticker says “2/16”. Next year, I’ll go on 1 March. Doing it this way means that I get thirteen months for the price of twelve.
I share that information so that others who live in states that require annual inspection can game the system the same way and to show that a spiritual life need not mean a life of squeaky clean adherence to every single rule. Some mild chicanery is allowed and some major acts of property destruction may be required when and if they serve the purpose of one’s Higher Power. I’m thinking of certain direct actions taken by the ELF, ALF and other radical organizations that work to undo the destruction caused by capitalism, actions which are right and good and which I have no specific knowledge of, nor do I participate in them. Do not contact me about any direct actions you are planning. I want no part in it. I do, however, pray for your success.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.