A new version of a cherished prayer arose this morning: “God grant me the serenity to quit trying to run the universe, since that gives me a headache, and help me turn it all over to You again this day, which gives me happy bubbles in the tummy and stars in my eyes.”
This version seems to have come out of an insightful discussion with Sr. Jane, my spiritual director, this week. I was discussing how I got a headache in the middle of the night, just before leading an Advent Retreat with Episcopal people in Richmond, Virginia. As soon as the headache mastered me in the night, I knew my suppressed worry about whether the group of strangers would like what I shared, i.e. like me, was causing it.
Sr. Jane invited me to look into the source of the stress, the anxiety over being accepted. In reflection, I also saw how that was a version of William trying to control life, including others’ reactions. (Weird that I still try that since it has never, ever worked).
She used a form called “the prayer of resonance” to lead me to see myself holding that anxious source of the headache in one hand. Then she invited me to see the whole situation through God’s eyes. Once I was in touch with God’s compassion for me, she invited me to picture my other hand holding the first hand. My hands symbolized divine loving-kindness holding an anxious headache from trying to control what I can’t control.
I then placed one hand in the other to feel that comfort, and circled my thumb tips to represent the cycle of my life, holding my anxiety in loving awareness. There was relief in both the meaning of the symbol and the actual hand posture. I set my intention to continue using this hand posture to remind me of this important spiritual principle.
Perhaps you too would like to try it, with your own version of what makes you anxious in one hand and what comforts you in the other. Let the comforting hand hold the anxious hand. And if you wish, circle your thumb tips to remind you to keep practicing this act of surrender.
May this day and this season be full of the art of surrender and the gift of letting go, remembered each time we center, so that the contemplative mind guides us through the harangues of the anxious mind. Said as a prayer, “God grant me the serenity to quit trying to run the universe, since that gives me a headache, and help me turn it all over to You again this day, which gives me happy bubbles in the tummy and stars in my eyes.” Amen.