Showing off

August 12, 2009

When I first read Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata, A Return to Prayer, back in 1994, I was blown away.

The prayers she writes are exceptionally powerful and resonate so strongly in their contemporary style.

There’s no question that the rote rhythm of a good Our Father or Hail Mary has its place for this born-Catholic girl. But when I speak to God most personally, I like to use Marianne’s words, or some like it. Not exactly formal, but not exactly casual, either. Respectful. Modern.

I used parts of her prayers in the eulogy I gave at my mother’s funeral, and I’ve marked up my first copy (I have two, actually) so much that rereading the annotations brings me back to my thoughts during certain periods of my life.

One of her most remarkable chapters is the one containing her Ceremony of Divorce. It’s a ritual for closure and despite the fact that it marks a break-point in a relationship, it’s beautiful. When divorce must happen, and sometimes there is no avoiding it, a loving and civilized break is the gold standard. It rarely happens, because divorce is so painfully emotional. So few of us can look beyond our immediate hurt, at least in the beginning. But a ritual like hers would be a healing, healthy way to mark the closing of a life chapter.

I was struck this morning by some underlining I’d done in that section of her book :

We join with you in the recognition that through the grace of God there are no endings but only the chance for new beginnings, and we pray this day for God to give that new beginning to you…

Now, we all know what and of whom I was thinking when I made that annotation back in 1994, although it had been many years since our divorce.

What’s so interesting is that the meaning of “new beginning” in that ritual is not exactly the new beginning that was the outcome for me and my fabulous former and current husband.

Yes, I had that kind of new beginning, too. First.

But I must admit that the current outcome was my deepest desire.

As several friends have said recently: “God likes to show off!”

Ain’t it the truth!

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