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Help, Thanks, Wow

In her book, Help, Thanks, Wow, spiritual writer Anne Lamott observes that when you think about it, there are really three prayers we offer up to the Divine.

Help pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

It’s that SOS signal that throws up a flair to the Almighty or Universe saying “Hey, if You can hear me, I really could use some help down here!!!” I believe that has been a universal prayer this past year, as our initial introduction to Covid 19 in March slowly turned into a long-term relationship, one that we still are trying to manage. On an individual level, our prayers for Help have included loss of loved ones, opportunities to mourn as a community, and in some instances even saying a last goodbye. We haven’t included the loss or change in jobs, our children’s schooling mostly going remote, and cancelled plans for weddings or vacations. The tension of our country this election year, and the realization that a November election result has turned up the heat (if that were possible), leaving us feeling deeply divided and disillusioned. By the time you read this, we will probably be past our first Covid Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. What a strange family photo this year, right? (Masks on or off, and does that include the dog?) Sigh, and by the way, HELP!!!

So, this may feel like a stretch, but is there something we can find to be Thankful for in these difficult times, as we step into 2021?

As I have listened to survivors over these difficult months, I have frequently heard thanks for family and friends. Covid 19 has tested our creativity, as we have had to find unique ways of finding connection. I have appreciated hearing about outdoor suppers, neighborhood driveway visits, and even ‘Zoom happy hours.’ People have been more thankful for the intentional phone call that has reminded them they are not alone, even if living by themselves. People’s pets have been providing comfort, care and companionship, interrupting Zoom meetings with enthusiastic barks. Perhaps having to look for things to be thankful for ‘even during a pandemic’ has become a new habit worth keeping in 2021.

And lastly, what does a WOW prayer possibly sound like?

In her book, Anne gives us a hint with the following description, “Awe is why we are here. And this state is the prayer: “Wow.” As we head into 2021, I believe our universal exclamation might be, “Wow, we made it!” Somehow, we have survived what many will look back on as the most difficult year in memory. With perhaps ‘Holy’ help (in the form of friends, family, and Netflix) we have stepped bravely, yet war weary, into a new year.

As only Anne Lamott can write,

“When we are stunned to the place beyond words, we’re finally starting to get somewhere…when an aspect of life takes us away from being able to chip away at something until it’s down to a manageable size and then to file it nicely away,
when all we can say in response is ‘Wow,’ that’s a prayer.”

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