I’m Andrew Chirch, an Interfaith advisor and coach. 99 is a special weekly podcast series where we meet for 9 minutes to regroup, re-center ourselves, and prepare for the work ahead.
Subscribe here to listen on your favorite podcast app, or you can use the player at the top of this post. A transcript is below.
What is your biggest wish? Go ahead, think for a second. I’ll wait.
Now, if someone who knows you well wrote your obituary today, would anything about that wish be in there?
The kind of wishes we’re talking about today are the kind that you’d probably want to show up there.
Now it’s none of my business what you wish for. Maybe it’s just a lollipop – or maybe it’s something hard to define or actualize – like world peace or happiness or joy.
Whichever, I thought this was an interesting exercise for this week’s theme, which is, the responsive one – the answerer of prayers and hopes and wishes.
I’ve heard that when we pray for something or when we spend time and energy hoping, longing, WANTING something to happen, we hitch ourselves to that thing.
Now I’m sure you’ve never hitched yourself to anything that in hindsight, you wished you hadn’t, but I have. It’s something like an act of creation to bind ourselves to a hope – and it’s worth doing with intention.
Here’s a quote from Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner:
“I finally had what I’d wanted all those years. Except now that I had it, I felt as empty as this unkempt pool I was dangling my legs into.”
Remember the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it?”
Well, yes. That’s a thing. Hoping and wishing is an act of creation that comes out of us. I don’t know how it got there, but I know that there is something profound about desire… But when you combine desire with the creative act of ASKING, something magical happens.
I imagine a plant can desire the sun, maybe it can even appreciate the sun when it comes. But you….
You’re human. You can ASK.
Who are you asking? God? The Universe? Yourself?
Even more interesting, who answers?
If you say “no one answers,” it’s possible you’re right, -and- I think that misses the point.
Have you ever had an experience where you didn’t know you wanted something – or you did know it, but were too afraid to ask? But then one day you DID ask?
This can be like putting down a great weight you’ve been carrying around… I’ll pose the same question I did at the top of this episode.
What is your biggest wish?
WHAT DO YOU NEED? RIGHT NOW?
You get to ask for it. Even if you’re the only one listening… In a second, I’m going to count down and then pause and I want you to say it out loud or let the word come as a whisper.
Ready? I need 3,2,1……
That was an act of creation.
Now what’s even cooler, is what happens next.
You’ve set your intention. You’ve told the Universe what you want, now what happens?
You pay attention. You listen. You start to notice.
What if the whole creative power of prayer – of asking -isn’t so much in the question, as in the listening we do afterward? I know I certainly don’t listen that hard any other time. I don’t have to. I’m force-fed information from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep, so if there’s any intention happening, it’s often not mine.
Now as the instructions on my bottle of shampoo say, lather, rinse, and repeat as necessary.
Back to the obituary.
Recently I listened to an episode of the Memento Mori podcast, where the host interviewed a NY Times obituary writer. It was a fascinating exercise, because it offered a glimpse into this notion of “what would your life look like in 300 words?”
The writer was asked, “So when you’re writing, is it about what effect the person had on the world?” and he answered, “Actually, a good obituary tells the story of what effect the world had on the person, or how they saw the world.”
How do you see the world? Is it random, and cruel, and without hope? Well then, what is your wish for it? What is your prayer and why?
Is the world a beautiful place, full of unexplained and unexplored wonder? What is your wish for it? What is your prayer and why?
I like to think that I have one or two big touchstones that never change. Ways I see the world, and how I want to live my life so that these things come about. I guess it’s kind of like living my life AS a prayer. I think we all do that.
I have to say that I get it wrong all the time. I wish for stupid, fleeting things and hurt people and have regrets all the time.
Still though, I don’t know who answers, or what, or IF anyone answers my prayers. I know that it seems like one of the few things – maybe the only thing I truly have control over in this life…. What I ask for.
What do you ask for? Be both careful and reckless – because if you ask, you just might get it.
Until next time, here’s to hopes becoming wishes, wishes becoming prayers, and to the sacred silence as we listen for what answers come.