Tuesday, June 09, 2020

PRAYER CHANGES THINGS

ANSWERED PRAYERS & THE POWER OF COMPASSION

By 
Lydia Cornell


The only response to hatred is love.
                                    Wayne Dyer 


"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance;
 That principle is contempt prior to investigation."
                                     Herbert Spencer


One day when my son was 8 years old, in third grade, he came home from school with a notice from the principal saying that a 10-year-old boy had died overnight from a high fever. We had never met this boy or his family, but I felt the mother’s pain so deeply it shattered me. I looked up the family name in the school directory to see if they had any other children, which they did: one other son in ninth grade at our local high school. My own son had also been home from school that week, suffering from a similar fever.
         Through my tears, I prayed deeply for this mother — pouring compassion out to her, holding her in my heart with the divine love that passes all understanding. I asked God to comfort her, to fill her with peace. I was on my knees saying the Lord’s prayer. And then the tears stopped. It was four o’clock in the afternoon, the day after the boy’s death. I felt an urgent need to get in my car and find this woman. All I knew was that she lived in a large apartment building on Rexford Drive, a few blocks away. The car seemed to drive itself down the street, and at the end of the block, I saw a woman in a bathrobe, pacing the sidewalk, bleary-eyed. She looked at me with a sadness I will never forget. I parked in a driveway and rolled down the window. “Are you Benjamin’s mother?” I asked, getting out of the car. The woman ran towards me — literally rushing into my arms, sobbing. We held each other, both of us crying and she said “Did God send you?”

The woman was Korean, and explained in broken English that she had just come outside to search for her husband, who had disappeared in grief earlier that day. She asked if I would come in and look at pictures of her son. We went inside and she showed me her son’s “room,” which was just a corner of the living room. Though this was Beverly Hills, they lived modestly in a one-bedroom apartment. Both sons slept in the living room.  She showed me Benjamin’s report card, schoolwork, baseball trophies, Yugioh cards — which were just like my son’s.  She poured tea and told me all the wonderful things about Benjamin. 
         I silently asked the universe to give me the right words to say, and out of my mouth came some memories formed into words I could not take credit for.  I told her about my precious brother Paul and how he had come to me in a vision a few days after his death. I’ll never forget this because I was driving my car and literally had to pull over and stop. On the radio they were playing the song from the Disney movie “Pocahontas” with the lyric “Who knows how high the Sycamore grows, if you cut it down you’ll never know.”  This struck me because we had Paul’s memorial service underneath a giant Sycamore tree. My head collapsed onto the steering wheel I was crying so hard.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, a surge of warmth and light filled my body and I bolted upright in my seat. I saw my brother’s face beaming at me, smiling so broadly I had never seen him like this.  He told me not to cry, that he'd “see me later,” that “there is no death.” He even said “I love you Lydia; you helped me.” This was in 1995, on the third day after I had found his body, dead from a drug overdose.  I felt completely at peace about him from then on. 
         I kept a picture of Paul by my bedside that week, with a candle burning next to it. One morning three days after his death, my toddler Jack, who was a year and a half old, woke up, giggled, pointed to the picture and said, “Paul happy!” This gives me goose bumps even now when I remember it.  Now I’m going to sound completely loony, but on the day we scattered his ashes at sea, before we left for the boat, three white doves alighted on our lawn, and these were not doves for hire.  What is it with the number three? 
         As I sat with the woman, I told her that her son Benjamin was a gift that she was blessed with for ten years and now God needed him back home for bigger things. I told her “our children are on loan to us.” I don't know where these words came from. 
         As she walked me out she said she felt an enormous wave of peace come over her.  “I was so depressed and now I feel I was visited by an angel.” It dawned on me that we can all be comforters or ‘human angels’ for each other when we open up and begin to really care about others. 
         Our entire school attended Benjamin’s funeral. During the eulogy, the minister read a letter written by the mother, in which she said: “Benjamin was a gift to us for ten years, and now God called him back home for more important things…"

         It’s amazing how love uses us when we make ourselves available. I've had full-blown miracles and healings from prayer -- and I’ve come to rely on ceaseless prayer for every problem in life including overcoming lifelong “genetic” diseases, as I describe later in this book.  But the best kind is praying for others with compassion. Buddhists believe strongly that people must immerse themselves in feeling other’s pain in order to gain the compassion that heals the world.  When your heart is full of love for your fellow man, you can reach out and actually change people’s lives.  This is what Jesus taught. The Great Peacemaker was not concerned with anything other than how we treat our fellow man. “Love one another. Love our enemies, return love for hate… Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” 
After my crash and burn, I began to transcend my ego in fits and starts. It did not succumb willingly.  Sometimes the ego is so big it needs an apartment of its own.  
But the most important change was when I began to have more compassion for others.  I believe that’s the main idea: to transcend our demanding egos and put others first. There’s no time to waste; we all need to get over ourselves and branch out. As Christ said, “you have to lose your life to save it,” and the St. Francis Prayer,“It is by self-forgetting that one finds.” I always tell my children, “No matter how much you acquire or accomplish in life, if you’re not kind to others, you’ve missed the whole point.”
         “How can I be of love and service to others?”  This is the question I’ve been trying to remember to ask myself every day.  One time out of ten I’m able to get out of my self-centeredness and actually do it! There are so many times I’ve received a nudge to extend myself to help someone, but out of laziness or fear, I’ve ignored the call.
Often I didn’t feel equipped to help others because I was such a mess myself. But they say, ‘the answers will come if our own house is in order,’ meaning, once we have eliminated our own defects of character that keep us separate from our fellow man — condemnation and judgment of others, pride, greed, envy and all the other deadly “sins” — we are of better use to the world. 
         “Compassion for others is impossible when we are filled with a belief that we are separate and distinct from other human beings,” says Wayne Dyer.  Love really does heal everything. But ‘faith without works is dead,” and we are all called to get out of ourselves and help each other, like the Good Samaritan. 

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