First of all, I'm pleased to share with you my Tiny Love Story that appears today in the New York Times. (Scroll down to "A Windy Intersection.") The Tiny Love Story series grew out of the wildly popular Modern Love series. Submissions are 100 words or fewer. The full version of this story appears in my memoir. It involved waltzing with my father as a teenager in a San Francisco hotel and fifty years later a chance encounter on one of the city's street corner.
For the month of May I've taken time to think about, write about, post about, and invite conversation about prayer. I spend a lot of time on social media in part because I'm fascinated (my BA degree was in American Studies with a focus in Sociology) by trends. Why now? What does a particular trend mean? Who is involved?
What I'm paying attention to now: People on social media are praying for each other. They most often don't know each other. They come from different faith backgrounds, and sometimes no faith background. But they are moved by one another's stories.
In a Facebook post from this past week, I wrote, "As I think of what it means to pray, I think ultimately of kindness — to others, to our world, to ourselves. I think about prayer as heart-generated and heartfelt compassion that moves toward intention, intention that moves toward action." (I'm speaking here of intercessory prayer, where we pray for others or for situations or issues. Another time I'll share thoughts about contemplative prayer that is a practice of stillness and Presence.)
Theologian Miroslav Volf wrote, "There is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem you are unwilling to resolve."
So, prayer requires something of us. In other words, in prayer, our lives intersect with others' lives. Their stories become in some way our stories. We listen or read, and our minds make connections. "What if this happened to me or someone I love?" Or, "this did happen to me or someone I love."
The cancer diagnosis. The job opportunity. The costly car accident. The new baby. Joys and sorrows, sorrows and joys. It's all in the mix of the human journey, the one we are all on.
The act of praying invites us to extend kindness wherever possible, and to see where what we are able to do meets what needs to be done. I don't know that it's any more complicated than that.
To Whoever or Whatever may be listening, I ask it may be so.