This morning I woke up thirty minutes before my alarm clock was set to ring. I got up and went to the bathroom, since that was the reason for my premature awakening. I am currently using my cell phone as an alarm clock. So, I picked it up on my return to bed and held it in my hand, while I tried to gain a little more much needed rest. The alarm sounded as scheduled and I promptly turned it off. I lay there for roughly fifteen minutes more. The cell phone, which was still in my hand, rang. No one ever calls me at 7:30am. I looked at the caller ID and immediately recognized the name of my good friend (who will remain anonymous). Her mother has been in a nursing home for quite some time slowly losing herself to alzheimers. My first thought was that her mom had made her transition from this human experience of being.
I answered and immediately she spoke. "I'm so sorry for calling this early but I am in need of prayer." She went on to say that she was scheduled for a biopsy this morning and was feeling some fear about the prognosis. Of course I said yes, absolutely I would pray with her. So began my day.
I was a Prayer Chaplain for almost two years for my church. So, it was not unusual or out of the ordinary that my friend should call me with her request. For several months I've been asking the question, "How can I help? How can I heal? And, how can I serve?" I gave up being a prayer chaplain because I felt that what we were doing as a group was too structured. I was not feeling the free flowing way of Spirit. I did feel it when I was actually praying with someone, but all the meetings and retreats that were required did not feel to me consistent with the process of connecting and allowing the spirit of God to move through me as a vessel. So, I gave it up. Or so I thought.
About mid morning my phone rang again. This time I let it go to voicemail because I was engaged in conversation with someone else. Later after retrieving the message I learned that another friend, (who too will remain anonymous) was also asking for prayer. Her father was lost in the mountains. She believed that he had gotten snowed in and was hunkered down awaiting rescue. There had been no word from him for three days. She felt that he was still alive, but just wanted to ask everyone she knew to pray for him. My friend is probably the most positive person I know. She recognizes the power of prayer and the use of positive words to help and heal any situation. I immediately said a prayer for him, and then called her back just to assure her that I had received her message and had responded accordingly.
To the African Bushmen the praying mantis is the oldest symbol of God: the manifestation of God come to Earth. The praying mantis is thought to be a divine messenger sometimes referred to as, “the voice of the infinite in the small.”
It seems completely appropriate that I have seen two praying mantis in the past week. Especially, considering that it has been years since I've seen one up close and in person. I spotted the first one on the hand rail outside of my residence early one morning, as I was leaving to take my daughter to school. The other was on the window screen peering into my art studio. I watched it from inside the room for quite some time with my face almost pressed against the screen. It amazed me that it just stood there peering back at me.
With all aspects of my life up in the air I could certainly use a little guidance. The praying mantis is a symbol of quiet, meditation and reflection. Just what I need right now. The last three weeks have been one of chaos and too much busyness. So now I am finding the need to turn within. Perhaps it's all about timing. It is after all, fall. And, nature is turning down the covers preparing to settle in for the long winter's night. A perfect time to retreat from the busyness of life.
The first friend who called to ask for healing prayers for her body called back in the afternoon. Somehow I missed the call, but she left a message. She received a clean bill of health from her doctor. Good news indeed! Did our praying together change what was going on in her body? We cannot know. What I know for certain, is that this morning on the phone I heard the fear and stress leave from her voice. So, if for no other reason, I can say that prayer has the power to connect us in a loving, peaceful way. Perhaps, that is where true healing takes place.
The praying mantis is quite small in comparison to a human, but we humans are miniscule in comparison to the allness of God. I can honestly say that I can see no better way for me to serve than to open myself as "the voice of the infinite in the small." As I breathe, trust and know that all that God is I am. And, we are.