In two days, i will hit number seventy-six. That is one more than three-quarters of a century. i plan to give up any political or religious posts, a plan to which i am likely not to adhere. i will have lots more to write, but my plan is for the writing to be from my experience with the hope someone might profit from my tales, either for learning what to do or what not to do when they are confronted with a similar situation.
So i am going to try and attempt some thoughts i have about life that do include some of my thoughts about religion and politics…and a couple of other things involved in living.
Bear with me. i am now certifiably an old man.
The Age of My Innocence Lost
All of the requests i receive, primarily on Facebook, for prayers for someone’s family member or loved one ailing obviously are heartfelt, people reaching out for support in a time of anguish and need. i usually reply with some short comment, also heartfelt, with a response like “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” If i there is a personal connection, i usually add something to show i am connected, and my “thoughts and prayers” are real. i hope it gives the sender and their ailing family or friend some succor.
Such requests bring up several thoughts in my mind.
One is to wonder just how heartfelt those other responses are. Is it a quick dash of a reply, almost automatic? Am i being cynical? Perhaps. That is for each responder to decide.
If they have responded in earnest. Then, i believe they are following the guidance my brother, Joe Jewell, described in his book The Elements of Prayer: Learning to Pray in Real Life. If you have not read Joe’s book, you should. It strikes at the heart of our reason to pray and how to do it in a meaningful way.
i also thought about a moment in my youth around nine or ten. i was in our living room, the center of our activity until Mother and Daddy added on the den, breakfast room, and their upstairs bedroom (then the den and breakfast room became the normal place for us to spend our time). But that Sunday afternoon, i was alone in the living room with the small black and white television in one corner. i had been ill, probably bronchitis, the curse of my youth, and i was miserable. Oral Roberts came on the television. i’m not sure why i kept the television on, but it was probably because there was only one channel and television was a novelty at that time in our world.
Oral gave his sermon, to which i did not even listen. Then he started calling down the ill and the afflicted and put his hands on them and prayed furiously, invoking the crowd to pray with him. And miracles of miracles with a great deal of shaking and convulsions, the afflicted were healed; the blind could see; the crippled could walk; the deaf could hear. After this miraculous display, Oral turned to the camera and invited the listening TV audience who were afflicted to be healed. He instructed us to touch the television screen and pray with him for the healing powers to possess our souls or some such entreaty. A bit skeptical, even if it is difficult to imagine a nine or ten-year old to be skeptical, i approached the small screen and placed my hand on it and prayed, or thought i was praying, along with Oral Roberts incantations.
i was still sick.
I didn’t lose my faith, but i pretty much gave up on Oral Roberts and those like him.
I have other doses of reality change my views on religion, and although i have criticized formal religion for many sins i think i see, i have always retained my faith.
It is my faith, customized, not likely duplicated; but my faith does not disparage those who practice their religions in a more formal manner, even the atheists, who claim their belief is the only right answer. No, sometimes i even envy those who “know” what is right for everyone. i have even more respect for those who believe, have faith in their spiritual being…as long as either the knowing or the believing does not tread upon the beliefs of others.
And i pray. And when i pray, i try to follow Joe’s guidelines. And i pray in earnest, and when i respond to requests for prayers, those responses are heartfelt, earnest, and sincere.
And i believe.