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Musings of an Awakening Spirit

Stories, poetry & general musings of Rebecca Haywood, a modern-day Shaman with a penchant for bringing the divine into the human experience.

Crying Prayers

I used to think that in order for my prayers to be effective, they required absolute faith.  I had spent years overcoming the voices of doubt and mastering the embodiment of faith that I witnessed flowing so effortlessly from my teacher, Mother Sarita.  When she prayed, her words were like a pointed arrow, piercing its target without even a hesitation of doubt.  I mimicked her energy until I too found its force moving through my words, unrelenting and yet quiet in its knowing.

But not on this night.

On this night, I pray for the life of my best friend — a true brother whom I have carried in my heart since childhood like a piece of my soul.  I weep, begging for his wellness and for him to awaken from his induced coma, somehow stronger than before.  I cry for his history, riddled with health challenges and call out for mercy, for justice — in spite of my spiritual belief in the perfection of all things and the enlightened acceptance of death as transformation and tragedy as opportunity.

I was truly the embodiment of an invocation — something I had grown to judge as I witnessed the sometimes desperate prayers at the feet of some idol.  ‘Where is their faith?’, I wondered, ‘and how could they connect to Spirit through all that doubt and fear?’  But what I couldn’t see, what I wasn’t willing to feel, was the purity of their asking and the humility with which they voiced their prayers.  It was an opening to Spirit of a different kind, but an opening nonetheless.

And on this night, my faith was on its knees, groveling as if it knew no force of its own — a stranger in the land of miracles that it once called home.  I had abandoned my lofty spiritual ideals, and quietly, humbly, sobbed under the light of the moon.  And I couldn’t stop.  I didn’t want to stop.  In spite of their desperation, my tears felt holy, cleansing, significant.  They mattered, these tears; and as I emptied, I prayed that his cup of life was filling.

It felt as if I was in Death’s court, pleading for my precious friend’s right to live — replaying all the ways in which he had proven his heart of gold, and defending the cycle of a lifetime yet to be completed and fully realized.  Though at the young age of twenty, he had already faced Death and had been granted a second chance, I beseeched Death for a third round.  I offered his dreams and good intentions as evidence of why he deserved mercy once again, and tendered my tears as payment for Death’s sacrifice.  

It went on like this all night long, and at some point, even Life seemed to echo my sorrow with a faint dew-like rain.  My face, wet with our tears as the sun rose to the song of the morning birds, and I, feeling no closer to the assurance that my faithful prayers normally carried.

You see, before my friend’s heart attack, I had a premonition of his death.  I had dismissed it as an odd morbid thought and continued on with my life in wintry Idaho.  It wasn’t until I got the phone call from his father that the dread of fate’s inevitability set in and with it, the sorrow at the thought of my beloved friend’s passing.  

Still, I refused to accept it.  I pushed beyond the nudging voices of fate and booked my ticket to arrive the next day.  ‘His time is not upon us yet’, I declared, ‘and I will do, give, take, all that I have to in order to ensure the continuation of his life.’  

And when I arrived by his side and held his hand in mine, I felt him so far away — like he was someplace other than his body, other than this earth.  I wanted to reach into him and call him home to me, to his life that he had already fought so hard for and that he deserved to live… but there was no response. 

Though the monitors showed that indeed his heart was beating, and his chest rose and fell with the pump of the ventilator, my friend — the soul and essence of his life, was nowhere I could see.

I was so distraught that I actually vomited three times that morning, unable to process my sorrow through the brave face I was upholding for his anxious parents.  They needed me as much as he did, and I could feel them looking for the faith and positivity that I usually carried.  And I was looking for it too.  I needed to feel that faith.  I needed to know that my friend was going to live and to live well.  How could I heal him without faith?

So I pushed through it, mustering any semblance of faith I could find and reaching out to fellow healers to pray for him.  I had glimpses of him coming to the surface; small signs of life responding to our energy — his hand squeezing mine, his eyelids flickering with recognition, his heart rate and his blood pressure normalizing.  The doctor’s were even able to remove the heart pump. 

Signs that would normally ignite my faith, and yet despair continued to sit heavy on my chest.  For I could see his body weakening with its reliance on the ventilator, and the several failed attempts at extubation only brought fleeting glimpses of his life force — in pain, confusion, and terror.  I was utterly forlorn and feared the hand of fate.

And so it was with a deep sorrow that I greeted the veil of nightfall on the eve of the fifth day after his heart attack.  I waited for the worried mind of his dear father to surrender to sleep, and snuck out to the patio to lay down under the stars in an attempt to find that absolute faith.  What I found was something entirely different, but equally powerful — absolute yearning.

Through my crying prayers on that night, and the yearning that bled from my heart, I had become the invitation.  It wasn’t surrender, but I had surrendered — to the asking, the pleading, the begging desire; and in that surrender I had become a pointed arrow of a different kind.  Instead of being a force of intent, I had become a force of asking.  I gave up and gave in — to whomever, whatever was willing to hear me and return my cherished friend to the light of life.  I didn’t declare my will to be done, I gave my will over to be done.  

And though I had no inkling that my prayers had been answered, they had.

His father and I arrived to the hospital early the next morning to be greeted by the good news that his stats had been steadily strengthening through the night and that extubation would likely occur in a matter of hours!  And so it did.  Come sundown, my friend was finally free of the ventilator.  Though his awareness was still someplace between here and there, his life had returned to his body and with it, my faith had come home.

All the emptiness I had felt filled with gratitude, and reenergized the Healer within me.  Though I knew my ‘work’ was not yet complete, and sensed that there would soon be yet another battle for my friend’s life, I was fortified by a humble strength in knowing that no matter my faith, Life was listening; and that, more importantly, my friend was answering ‘Yes!’ to Life.  We were all in cahoots; not alone; not too weak or fearful to heal, but acting together as Angels of a feather.

And so I say to all of you who struggle with your faith, keep praying.  Even through your tears and the desperation of doubt, there is a voice of pure yearning that pierces the veil between Life and Death; that slips through the fingers of fate and touches the heart of Life as an undeniable invitation.  Embrace the humility and bow down in its grace.  For in it, you become an opening for Life to fill, an asking for Life to answer.  Do not wait for your faith to come home, it will; and in the meantime, empty your vessel of sorrow’s holy tears and become the absolute invitation.

The Day the Sun Stood Still
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