Tonight is a quiet night in my house. Homework is happening upstairs, and the news is on in the next room. I have work I could do (as is generally the case). But, I am feeling so much awe…ordinary, everyday, “small point of light” awe…that I simply have to write. What I am in awe about tonight is the power of asking.
Let me back-track a few weeks. During my monthly meeting with my spiritual director, I was updating her on some contemplative work I was doing, re-living and re-experiencing some moments from my past in preparation for writing about them. She said something simple, but profound: “Remember, you can always ask for help.”
Yes, I could. And, I probably should. The problem is, I usually don’t.
Why is it that asking is so hard? I was raised with a high degree of independence and perhaps even pride about stubborn self-determination. That has served me well in a lot of ways, personally and professionally. It always occurs to me to do whatever I can on my own first, and only ask for help when I really need it. I would help anyone else in a heartbeat. But, it has been harder for me to ask. I am learning the importance of this in practical, daily ways and in ways that help my professional development. But, I still wrestle with asking.
Since receiving this loving suggestion, I have been intentional in asking for help with a few things this month. Whenever I have asked, I have received beyond what I could have imagined, in serendipitous and divine ways. Let me write this in the style of one of my favorite children’s books, “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie” which seems only fitting for the divine comedy of overflowing grace and gratitude that I have been experiencing:
If you ask for a suggestion of a place to write, you will learn about secret corners of a place you thought you already knew well, and you will realize that you are connected to that space in spirit, and companioned even in your solitude.
If you go to that place to write and ask for divine inspiration, words will flow out of you like water that quenches your soul. You may think at that moment that you received what you asked for, but have no idea so much more is yet to come.
If your inspiration spills over into the rest of your life, you may start on a new project that weekend and ask a few friends to take a look.
If your friends encourage you, you may be inspired to step out on a limb and write more. You may be asked to share your work with others. Your work may be noticed, you may be interviewed, and others may begin to see more clearly and fully who you really are.
If all these words and projects flowing from you remind you of something you read by a famous author that inspired you, you can go to that author’s website and ask that author to send you a signed copy of her latest book (instead of just ordering it on amazon). In the process, you can share the story of what that author wrote which spoke to you.
If the author writes back to you, thanking you, then you can ask her to visit your blog and take a peek at your latest projects.
If the author does read your work, she may be moved by one of your stories, just as you were with hers. And you may find yourself writing back and forth with the author as if you were familiar friends, encouraging each other. And, you both may be deeply blessed and grateful for the exchange.
If you find words flowing from you in these ways, others may notice. You may ask others to read your work, and they may share their work with you and ask you for feedback, too. You will learn from each other, and you will support each other. And many more people than you ever realized will be moved by what all of you have written.
And, one evening in the quiet comfort of your home, you may realize that you are no longer sitting alone, contemplating writing in your solitude. You may find a beautiful community has emerged, beyond what you could have asked or imagined.
And if you ask, you will know in the stillness of your heart that great works are just beginning, and there is always more yet to come.
You asked, and you received.
And you keep receiving.