Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Praying about Our Projects

Yesterday afternoon, a colleague took me out for a late lunch.  She wanted to do something to show appreciation for how much I had helped her during the great syllabus project of late September.  She had been in a place with limited Internet access while she helped aging family members.  I did most of the syllabus work for her.

I told her that a simple thank you was enough, but she continued to ask me to let her buy me lunch.  And so, I did.  Sometimes it's good to let people return a favor. 

As we walked to lunch, she asked me what I was working on in terms of my writing.  I told her that I was transforming blog posts into a book of essays that explores how one woman tries to live an authentic life even as the values of one place, like work, conflict with another, like church.  I joked, "It's going to be like Eat, Pray, Love, but with a more solid theological grounding."

My colleague has solid theological grounding herself, although we come from different Christian traditions.  We talked about the need for books that explore the idea of authenticity.  We talked about the need for grounding.  She even prayed over me/with me about the project.

I must confess it was not a typical lunch with colleagues.  But I found it nourishing nonetheless.

She prays in public much more differently than I do, when I remember to pray at all.  She talks to God like God is sitting there eating garlic rolls with us.  She asked God to be my PR agent, to find me the best deal for my book, the one that would let my important words be spread far and wide.

And she prayed for the other books that she knows that I will write.

Our late lunch made me think of all the ways that the world sends us validation.  I worry that I've taken too long with this project.  I think about the inner wisdom that I got 2 years ago, the experience where I heard clearly, "Get that memoir written," not "Go to seminary" (for more on that experience, see this blog post).

I've been feeling a bit of despair because here it is 2 years later, and though I still feel the urgency, I'm not done yet.  I've worried that I've blown it somehow, lost a chance.  It was good to be reminded that there is still hope. 

I have other friends who also function as believing mirrors, as cheerleaders, as people who prod me to go in the direction I should go.  But what was interesting about yesterday is that this colleague did the same thing, but in a different way.  She said, "Have you asked Jesus for what you need?"

Actually, no I haven't--and for much the same reason that I offered when she asked me if I would self-publish.  I am not good at self-promotion.  I am not good at asking for what I need.  I know that God has more important priorities than my writing life.

I also realize the fallacy of these thoughts.  Is my God really so limited?  Surely God can find time for our issues, in addition to the bigger issues of Ebola and war and trafficking and all those other injustices that we heap on each other.

By now, some of you might be saying, "Don't you have a theology blog for these reflections?"  It's interesting to me how I feel strange about discussing the idea of prayer and creativity and God over here at this blog.

At one point, my colleague talked about the prayers that we offer before we start on our work.  I confess that I did not confess that I don't often pray before I start on my writing tasks and other creative work. 

What might happen if I did?

I thought my colleague was returning a favor with a simple lunch together; I didn't realize that I'd get so many blessings in return.

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