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On Counting and Praying

Posted: October 12, 2015


I had been crewing all night for my husband and his friend on the Superior Hiking Trail. Rob was running a 100 -miler, my husband was pacing him throughout the night for 20 miles. I went from aid station to aid station as the, “rally crew”… When we finally arrived at Lutsen Resort, I was rewarded with the most brilliant sunrise. As the day broke open before me, black faded to cobalt blue, and then a stunning pink stretched before me. In that moment I realized that God sends this to me every morning. But, in that one moment, I saw it.

The Poet Marie Howe reminds us to count 10 things every day, not what, “they are like” so that we see their color, shape and detail. It is her way of being, “present.” I have taken on her challenge… When I remember to do it, especially in the morning, there are huge rewards.

Recently I was on an early morning flight from Miami. I was supposed to sit in the middle seat, but two friends were traveling together and asked if I minded switching to the window seat. I was thrilled. About three quarters of the way through the flight, I decided to pull up the blind that had covered the window. When I lifted it, I saw the most amazing series of clouds that I can recall. The clouds were magic… bright, white and fluffy with a dark blue back drop. I had to hold myself back from waking up the two sleeping passengers next to me to tell them they were missing all of it! I took as many photos as I could so I would remember…

This morning on my way home from dropping my husband at the airport, the sky was dark. The sun had not yet risen. It had been a rough start… the hatch of my car was open when husband started backing out of the garage. We didn’t realize that it had not closed. Fortunately there was no damage. After dropping him off, I needed to make a quick stop to pick up bagels for a meeting. On my way home, I could see an orange sun. It was audacious, brassy and bright. I continued counting. I saw a friend from book club walking her dog. I saw a neighbor girl riding her bike to school. The list kept going.

Maybe counting is really a way of praying… Maybe it’s a way of asking God to show me things that are often hidden or beyond my view. I hate to admit that sometimes I miss the, “show,” because I am distracted or in a hurry. Counting is creating what the Irish poet and mystic, John O’Donohue calls, “the thin spaces” where there is mystery and the presence of God.

Once you start this practice, you will really see what is often, “hidden in plain sight.” And, you will begin to search for the albino squirrel and the pair of cardinals that circle your yard, and the geese gathering in the park before they fly south. You will see the changing colors on the trees. You will no longer wait for all of the brilliant yellows, reds and oranges. You will notice dappled sunlight streaming through the green leaves before the dance of fall.

Maybe as you count, you will feel that God is a silent partner in this prayer.

                                                                                Maura Schnorbach