I follow the GPS cues
exactly (leaving home
early, just in case).
I’ve enrolled in an evening workshop: “Reflections and Intentions.” En route, I’m haunted by a Jan Richardson poem.
Travel the most ancient way of all, Richardson writes.
. . .
but the one
you make yourself.
my GPS voice intones
(digitally confident and
“is on your left.”
Actually, no. It is not there.
Nor is it kitty-corner, adjacent, or around the back.
I cruise nearby alleys. Now what?
Welcome detours as doors deeper in.
Well, the most promising building in the vicinity contains numerous offices.
Once inside the building, I wander down halls seeking the combined classroom, Suites 101 and 102.
And there they are: on the other side of a windowed door with a keypad lock.
You have looked
at so many doors
wondering if your life
lay on the other side.
How easily the door swings open.
Six doors flank the new hallway. I head for Suites 101-102. Then, an ominous click as the door I just came through, now one way only, automatically locks behind me.
I turn the handles of Suite 101, then 102—then give them each a hard shake. Locked. So, right room numbers, wrong building. Unless class is cancelled?
Even the outside Exit is locked.
Help, I’m trapped in a Metaphor for Life.
Wait, one door’s slightly ajar. A restroom.
Oh, please. Would YOU feel like resting?
A person can leave home in good faith.
You’ve done this, haven’t you?
You allow ample travel time,
follow directions, and end up . . . stranded.
And there you are, praying. I recently learned the most ancient prayer of all.
Richard Rohr reminded me that the Hebrew consonants used to spell God’s name—so sacred it is never to be spoken aloud—are visually rendered “YHWH.”
When correctly pronounced, Rohr adds, these consonants do not require movement of the tongue and lips. The gentle sounds replicate breath: (YH) inhalation, then (WH) exhalation. Each breath, lightly sketched. A different, deeper kind of direction.
“The first name you spoke, upon birth, was God’s name,” Rohr declares.
“The last breath you take will be the name of God. It’s the one thing you’ve done constantly.” (See video clip, below)
Friends, this is the most calming prayer I know. And every in-between, stuck place seems an ideal setting for it.
Not too long afterward, a barista engaged in after-hours clean-up discovers me. She ushers me through the closed coffee shop. She Googles a map on her phone, then kindly points me in the right direction, not far after all.
Once again, the way forward proves unexpected. And, ultimately, timely.
What calms and re-centers you when you’re surrounded by closed doors?
Friends, last week I shared the YHWH prayer with our daughter, Kristin, who was hospitalized for acute, undiagnosed pain. I’ll be praying it again this coming week, Monday, January 20th, as she undergoes yet another surgery.
We’d be grateful for your prayers.
Let me know how I can pray for you?
Photo: Mark Cruz on Unsplash