Monday, January 08, 2007

The Prayers of One Who Does Not Pray

A friend long silent sent me a long email detailing the difficult decade she has undergone since the last time we saw each other.

She's a church-goer. She alluded to spirituality, but did not go into details.

Left to find something to tell her that conveyed how I would think of her, I told her she has my prayers. I don't pray, but if I did, I would ask for her path to be smoother, her joys to be greater and her troubles diminished. If positive thoughts count for anything, she gets those from me anyway. How much worse would her situation have been if I had not sent the occasional warm though wafting into the cosmos?

She is very strong. That may work against her, because people take her strength for granted. Even battered by circumstances, she keeps moving on. I don't really know the day-to-day reality when I live far away and have heard only this condensed account of ten years, but I know how she seemed, and how she seems the same.

Strong people often do not know they are strong, because they go to their limits, were they feel tired, sore, frightened and weary. They feel the way the rest of us feel. They're just feeling it way out there beyond us. The experience of life is the same bewildering muddle of missteps and confusion, triumph and setback.

Even when strong people realize they are putting out beyond the rest of us, they feel no better. Some of them mistake their strength for the norm, and wonder why everyone else is slacking off. Others shoulder the weight of the Earth with varying degrees of resentment or codependent compulsion.

A few of them juggle the planets with pride and pleasure, while riding a unicycle across the Milky Way. Don't you just want to throw an asteroid down in front of them?

Be nice, now.

My friend drags the stones chained to her because it's what we do while we're alive. Some people have small burdens. Some people have servants to carry most of them. I can't tell you if any of this is evaluated, rewarded or punished in the Great Beyond. In case it's not, I do advocate that we treat each other a little more nicely while we're here. Do what you can, when you can, to slide those stones a few yards, or cut some of the chains away, if you can manage it.

We need to listen to each other, in case no one else is listening.

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