Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Does God do parking?

“Please, please, please!”

“Damn. They were pulling in.”

“C’mon God. Give me a spot please. Just this once. C’mon!!”

“Hey maybe...crap.”

“Oh?!... OH!... Heck yeah! Score! Bing, bing, bing!! Thank You God!! A spot, and close to the front!”

I parked my car in front of the large bookstore located at the mall and proceed to the door. Prayers answered and a strong sense of smug accomplishment; happy as a kid who got the G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu Grip he asked for on Christmas in 1974.

Then I thought: “Did God reaaaallly grant me a parking space?”

This created a new topic to ponder as I strolled around the bookstore. I go to bookstores not always with the intent on acquiring a tome to my liking, but I like the silence. I like the smell. I like being surrounded by the stories of others presented for me to slip into. I just like bookstores.

I wondered as I flipped through the random pages about my recent “answered prayer.” I had issue with myself. Did I really spend more time and energy praying strong and out loud for a parking space? Do I consider God and all that’s holy nothing more than a simple cosmic vending machine to where I drop in a hollow prayer to immediately get my material good? Did my parking space simply get pushed to the end of the column of other vended goodies and by my selection fall to the little glass door for my retrieval?

I looked then to the other similar times of where I went into my little “fanny pack of prayers” pulling them out like the coupon lady at the grocery.

“Please God, let the donuts be fresh!”

“Please God, let there be some ink in the printer!”

“Please God, let us have ketchup!”

In retrospect and through introspect I find that sometimes we see prayers like coins. The pennies we toss about not even worrying if we lose a few in the couch cushions. The small prayers devalued; often unaware they all stimulate the same spiritual economy. The larger coins, the bills even, we save for the big ticket items. Overcoming illness, praying for relief from external burden and pain, oppression of others, dissolution of disasters–these are the prayers we value. I find for me that I must respect the source within me that sets the prayer in motion, and to whom I consider the recipient. It is not up to me to devalue the worth of a penny and I should spend all change wisely.

Then I thought, perhaps these “little requests” are not even prayers. Often I find whether answered in my favor or not, the answer is part of a greater whole–one step in a journey. These little moments of truth allowing us to feel cheated or grateful are part of a bigger lesson. Maybe denial of said request is teaching me patience. Maybe fulfillment showing me I am being heard even when I feel insignificant. I am always grateful when I am given tangible evidence my prayers are being heard. I think my gratitude sends my messages clearer in the future; my lack thereof maybe slowing delivery.

Today I was watching the news as I do in the morning. The major network news show had a touching story. An octogenarian woman had made it a practice for years to order a pizza every day from the same Domino’s; a large pepperoni, cooked light, with two sodas. She lived alone and somewhat in recluse. I do not know if she liked pizza that much or the company. Maybe both.

Every day at 10:00 AM when the pizza restaurant opened, the phone would ring regularly with her request. One Monday it did not–nor did it the two days prior. Upon arriving at work that Monday the manager of the pizza store mentioned to the regular delivery driver of this anomaly. The driver immediately became concerned. She exclaimed she was going to leave work to go check in on her regular customer. At the protest of the manager, the driver mentioned she would “get clocked out”, but would not be hindered in her human obligation to check on the elderly woman.

She arrived at the house. No answer as she pounded on the doors and windows calling her name. She checked with the neighbors. No one had seen nor heard from her. They never did. The driver called 911 for an ambulance and sent it to her address in grave concern. She returned briefly to work to check in and returned again a while later to the scene where officers and EMT professionals were pulling her from her home on a gurney. Alive!

The lady had fallen and lay injured on her floor for days. The lady asked who had called in her favor which saved her life. Emergency professionals told her the Dominos people. Her odd diet and brief daily interactions saved her life. Her prayers obviously heard. The Dominos delivery person was seemingly driven by divine opportunity or perhaps a vehicle in answering the prayers of another.

I love these stories of the tangible symphony of the transfer, receipt, and delivery of divine happenstance. I wonder if my little requests of selfish nature are clouding the airways. I wonder if they are of any importance or if my little shallow prayers are still working out these spiritual muscles. Maybe I can simply try to become aware of my intention behind them, who they serve, and for the greater good of whom. Is there a sliding value scale of the prayers God handles? I also realize sometimes the answer is “no.” Sometimes it is “not now.” It is still good for me.

I don’t know exactly if God does parking. I like to think he may have someone else handle that for him. I don’t know. I do however think he likes pizza.

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