Belief in believing is learned. A dear friend of mine deep in sorrow once said to me amidst tears and the runny nose of a person who saw no relief in her future: You are good at wishing. You just write those things down. You ask. I can’t do that.”
You know when you really love someone. A friend like this one. You are there with them in their grief, your heart hangs low, hands and arms open, then she says something like this and you want to say, “But that’s impossible! Of course, you can wish! You just ask!” I channeled my Uncle John and kept my mouth shut for a little while longer. She listed all the things I had wished for: living in Chicago (or Spain or San Francisco), being near water, having a solo art show, meeting my husband. The way she talked about my life, my wishes made it seem like there was a button I had pushed each time and the wish just appeared. There were no apps back then, but I bet there’s a wishing app now.
I’ll share three of my wishing rituals with you in the hopes that if you find yourself bereft or lacking in asking, you may borrow, adopt or adapt any of these approaches.
1. The Wishing Journal
This is a place where only wishes go. I checked this journal over the weekend and many of the wishes itemized by my dear friend were chronicled in this book. And yes, many of them, most have come true. What’s fascinating to me is that I stopped writing in this journal in 2010 and those wishes were not just for me, but for loved ones. For the brain injury of a friend not to result in a tumor, for a family member to move through the grief of a dead friend and for the simplicity of happiness for another family member. These wishes have also come true.
2. The Annual Letters
Another ritual which I have practices sometime around the new year focuses around writing two letters. One letter is dated on the actual day that I wrote it and the other is dated one year later on that same day. In the present day letter, I write a litany of thanks for all of the events in the present year. One year, I even pulled my Franklin-Covey planner and just went through the personal and work achievements, fun, celebrations, money earned and bills paid.
The second letter looks back in gratitude for all of the amazing things that happened. I did this before my son was born, but when I was pregnant. I did this in the early years of my relationship with my husband. I celebrated our harmony and our mutual compassion at a level we aspired to reach, but I acted as if, I expressed appreciation for what we already were, and in so doing, with faith, it was called into being. That is the magic of wishing. At the back of this journal, I glued and pasted some of my favorite post cards and photos declaring more desires. Mostly they focused on the people in my life. The beautiful places that I love. And feelings I wanted to feel. During some of my saddest, darkest hours, these images reminded me that I believed, or at least that I wanted to believe in those things.
3. The Wishing Box
You can use a shoebox, an artsy pretty box, whatever you like as a wishing box. Take slips of paper, index cards, photos, whatever you choose, write down your wishes, date it, be clear about what you want and when, think it, feel it, say it and put it in your wishing box. This can be a private endeavor or a family project. Periodically, visit your wishes.
My son recently started Kindergarten at a Catholic school. No matter what you believe, whether it’s a benevolent universe, Allah, God or like Robert Kirk, the 17th century Scottish Episcopalian minister who wrote about Elves, Fauns and Fairies, I hope that you will take heart in this story. Last night during Jacob’s bath, I was teaching him our address. Afterwards, as he was getting ready to go to bed, he asked, “Does God have a phone number?” I misheard him and started to recite our phone number, then realized what he asked. “Wow, that’s a great question.” “Does Mary have one? Does Jesus?” Suddenly, I had visions of God, Mary and Jesus with cell phones, talking and texting. It was awesome.
I said, “You know, one way that I talk to God is that I use this statue. (We Catholics rock with the icons, images and the like.) So I pulled down my wooden statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus (it’s about 10 inches high). I explained that it belonged to my grandmother, his nana’s mom. So he immediately started talking into the back of Mary like it was the speaker of a cell phone. He said, “Thank you God for our health and our clothes and our food.” Then he took me to the bathroom, pulled a q-tip out for each of us and wet it in the sink and told me to repeat after him. We began reciting gratitude for birds, trees and kindergarten. He then pulled some of the cotton off of the q-tip and dropped it into the sink. I was instructed to do the same.
So I invite you, be it a journal, letter, box, statue or q-tip, create your own wishes, your own rituals and ask! Ask! Ask!