Morning Pages: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but Why Not?

The reading this morning is especially powerful but the same line always renders me confused: Ask for whatever you want and it shall be given.

He must mean something more than just this simple message because the human comprehension of it isn’t true. ?Not everything we want is given. ?Is there something more?

Yesterday a dear friend of mine began chemotherapy after finding stage 4 colon cancer had spread to her liver. What is is that I want, what have asked for? I ask that she recovers and lives a longer life with her daughter. ?That is my desire.

If she dies, what becomes of this prayer? What are we to make of the prayer that went seemingly unanswered?

I never looked at prayer in terms of asking or even requesting. ?Spiritual mentors have always guided me, reminding me that prayer is not about God withholding something unless you ask for it. The act of prayer, a reflection upon one’s inner world and inviting God to be a part of it, is not a constant Christmas list, but a clarifying process of true desire. What is it that I truly want? ?Who am I in this desire?

The words that stay with me are not the aforementioned quote but the part that reads, “remain in me.” This passage urges me to stay a part of the vine, to grow in God, remain a part of something larger. ?Perhaps when we do this our desires change and that is how all we seek is given to us. ?When we turn away, drift, alter our connection by severing our ties to the Vine, then what we seek becomes artificial and thus unattainable. What plant rooted in the rich soil asks for astroturf?

So my prayer life remains curtained in mystery. These morning pages are my prayers. I find them circular sometimes, almost bizarre and directionless. I don’t really know where I’m going in prayer but I know that it always leads to something deeper, unearthing a presence that I wasn’t aware of prior to the prayer. I realize in that moment that I am connected o the Vine, and my prayer reminds me of that. And I feel full. And with that fullness, I am able to go out and face the possibility that my friend will not survive this cancer. That she may die soon, or she may live three more decades of joy. I don’t know. But my prayer reminds me of how precious life is, how dear she is to me, and coming into that clarity is not the same as her cure for her cancer, it is a antidote to my fear.