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By Rev. John Mabry, PhD
You can almost set your clock by it. A spiritual direction client will come in, and begin unpacking her spiritual life. There will be this nagging thing that is really bothering her, and she will agonize over it for a good while. Then I will ask, “So what happens when you pray about that?” And then she gets that deer-in-the-headlights look, her face falls, and she says, “Uh…I didn’t think of praying about it.” I refrain from slapping my forehead. “Why don’t you pray about that and see what happens?” I suggest, with exaggerated patience.
Of course, I do that myself, too. I can’t count how many times my own director has asked me the very same question, “So what happens when you pray about that?” Doh! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s a good question—why don’t we think of that? Why do we pray diligently about things that are on the periphery of our center of concern, but neglect to focus on those things that we worry most about?
It was during out recent faculty and board retreat for ChI that I realized just how much anxiety I was feeling. I mean, I always feel this way at our meetings. In past years, our existence was kind of precarious, and I sometimes wondered if we’d make it to next year. This meeting was different—ChI is attracting as many students as we can handle, and a few more besides. We seem to be at the tipping point of becoming (gasp) secure, or successful, or even flourishing.
Somehow, this made me even more anxious. “Don’t stumble now!” I wanted to shout to my assembled colleagues—but I held my tongue. As I sat with my feelings, I heard the voice of my own spiritual director, asking, “So what happens when you pray about that?” It struck me that I don’t usually pray for ChI, and I feel no little degree of shame at that thought.
I routinely pray for the things and people that I love, and those in need. ChI fits the bill on both counts—the work we do here is very close to my heart. I love our mission and the people involved—both colleagues and students. So why not pray for ChI, too?
So I have added ChI to my daily prayer list. Every morning, as I curl up in my jammies with my daily dose of caffeine, I take Jesus’ hand and together we walk into the Presence. And there, as I hold—and am held—in love, I lay before the Divine all that I am—my feelings, my fears, my hopes, as well as my cares and concerns. Since that includes ChI, every morning I present our school to the Divine, and ask all that is Holy to bless our work, our staff and faculty, our students.
And what happens? I am aware of the Divine’s care, support, and inspiration for our work. I am not anxious. There is no need for me to worry about anything, after all, because this work—and the responsibility for this work—does not belong to me. This is Divine work, and I am now daily entrusting it to the One to whom it belongs.
What happens when you pray for ChI? Or send it loving kindness in your meditation? If you didn’t think of it, don’t feel bad—it happens to the best of us. But I offer it to you as a suggestion for your own discernment. There are so many ways we support the good work of this school—through tuition, through volunteer time, through financial gifts—why not support ChI in prayer, too? Even those of us who are too busy to volunteer or too strapped to donate can do that. Won’t you consider adding ChI to your prayer list, too?